The dictionary meaning of ‘perhaps’ is,
Used to express uncertainty or possibility: “perhaps I should have been frank with him”.
Used when one does not wish to be too definite or assertive in the expression of an opinion.
Some of the synonyms used for ‘perhaps’ include ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’ and ‘probably’.
When was the last time you used the word?
I did a quick check on my writing (in this blog and my office emails in general) and I seem to be using a lot of ‘perhaps’.
Not necessarily in places where I need to be assertive, but in all places where I’m working with someone or a team, on something, to enable/achieve something. I have seen that the inclusion of this word – particularly where you need to work with others and make it seem participative – delivers amazing results.
Two, it adds a coat of humility in your opinion since you’re open to throwing it open for other options.
Three, it helps you improve or expand the range of options you’re looking at, since others seem more forthcoming when they notice you’re not imposing.
Just like ‘I believe‘, I feel the word ‘perhaps’ adds a very useful tone to your communication, when used at the appropriate place.
I would not tell the guy who parked his car in my slot, ‘Perhaps, you’ve parked your car in my slot’. But I’d sure use ‘perhaps’, when I am sharing my opinion on a point with my team – as in,
‘This is what I think will work. We can discuss it and close the issue’
‘This is what I believe will work. Perhaps we should discuss it and then close the issue’
We are perhaps (see?) a lot more used to blunt assertiveness in workplaces in India. A little effort in working on the tone won’t hurt – can only help.
But, do you think such nuances will be lost on Indians?
Pic courtesy Poster Street.