I’m just going to say it.
“It depends” makes you sound like an idiot.
We all know that “it depends.” How much does a car cost? Well, it depends on the brand and the extras and the model and the…
I can’t be the only one who is tired of hearing this reply to every question I ask. When I ask you how many times a week you eat out, or how much rent costs in your town, I just want you to give me an estimate. I don’t expect you to whip out a mental blue book and give me 7 decimal places of precision. When people ask me how many miles I typically ride, I don’t say that it depends on how many miles I feel like riding, or how long I have to ride.
Why does this deserve a rant? Well, when somebody asks a question of you, it’s a sign that they have taken a small interest in your life. I think this interest should be rewarded with a meaningful answer. For example, Don always asks me how my back is doing when he sees me. He doesn’t have to ask this question, but the fact that he does ask means he’s taking the energy to give a darn. Would it be meaningful for me to tell him that “it depends” on what I’m doing, what day it is, how I slept last night?
What if it really does depend? In this case, just cut right to the dependency. When your boss asks how long it’s going to take to get the TPS reports done, tell her that they’ll be finished when Bob gets the lawyers to sign them, not that “it depends on how long legal takes to get them back.” Give information, not obviousness.
Earn the respect of your friends and colleagues by stripping “it depends” from your lexicon. To mindlessly tell people that everything depends, on the price, on the quality, on the number of people, is an insult to the questioner’s intelligence.