‘I will get back to you’ – The true [sad] meaning
“I will get back to you”. A couple of decades ago, a person reading or hearing this statement would understand that there is something the person wants to think or look over. Post that, they will arrive at a decision and reach out to the person being spoken to.
Sadly, its 2020 and the meaning of the phrase now translates to “I am Sorry”. To help understand this, let us take a look at the different scenarios where this phrase finds usage.
Caught up in your hectic work-from-home schedule, you are at a loss on how to manage your day. At that very moment, your mom walks up to you, asking how she can watch a movie on YouTube.
“Mom, I am busy at the moment. I will get back to you”. This is what you say. Both of us know that you will probably not even remember this incident by the end of the day, let alone make time to get back to your mom.
Before you start guilt-tripping and going down the spiral on what a bad son or daughter you are, let me remind you that you did not come up with this on your own. Remember the job interview you had attended four months ago?
You qualified up to the HR round and thought that you had aced the interview. The HR had told you, “I will get back to you”. Rings a bell??
Before you start condemning this phrase, let us take a moment to introspect. Which is better – being told on your face that you didn’t make it? Or being given false hope?
Let us consider another scenario. I am sure most of us have been on either side of this story or at least had a friend who had gone through this. A guy has a huge crush on a girl. After months of effort, he finally musters the courage to walk up to her and confess his love.
The girl, sadly, does not have any feelings for him. She feels awkward to tell him that on his face as she doesn’t want to see the look of dejection. However, it is not fair on her part to pretend to reciprocate someone’s feelings when she thinks otherwise. Then what does she do?
‘I don’t know yet. I will get back to you’, is all she says hoping that the guy picks up the cue. Please note that in this scenario the gender roles are often reversed but the phrase remains unaltered.
To whom do you blame here? The girl, who did not want to be rude? Or the guy, who had the galls to admit his love?
Honestly, such is the complexity of human emotions that no one is to be blamed. Both are correct in their stand and yet it is unfair to use a phrase that conveys false hope. This fight of righteousness over emotions has existed for centuries and even today there is no correct answer to this.
Today life is much more complex and this, ‘I will get back to you’ has extended itself to one’s professional life as well.
Any freelance worker will tell you that ‘I will get back to you’ is the most common phrase that they hear from potential clients who never really revert. An entrepreneur will vouch for the same. She or he would have heard this phrase millions of times from potential investors.
So, what does all of this boil down to? In my opinion, this phase is a phrase behind which we, the modern society, hide anything remotely uncomfortable. We don’t like to tell someone that they are not good enough for us or that we do not have time for them.
By giving people a false hope to cling on to, we make the rejection so much harder to handle. All of this while believing that we are doing the other person a world of good. Ironical, isn’t it?
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