usingtherightwords

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What You Wish You Could Say to a Customer Service Representative


It’s nice to be known for something. I recently received the following email:

Hi Lee,

I was looking over old blog posts today (mine, not yours) and came across one (from Nov. 2013) that made me think of you. I had described how I had called Virgin Mobile to ask them if there was any way to download pictures from my phone other than emailing each one individually. The response had been that, on a flip phone (which is what I had at the time), that was the only way.

Then my blog post contained the following two lines:

“Then he said, ‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’ I didn’t say my first thought, which was, ‘You haven’t helped me with anything, yet,’ or even my second thought, which was, ‘Can you not end your sentences with prepositions?’

I have the distinct impression that, had you been in my shoes that day, you would have had the same two initial thoughts – whether or not you would have expressed them or not, I can’t say.

Most likely, I would thought the first but not the second. But I wish I could utter both.

Thanks to Jackie Z. for the email.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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March 15, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Networking Meeting Miscommunications


As long as there are humans, and as long as there is communication, there will be human miscommunication, as the following examples overheard at networking meetings show:

I do the same thing but differently — Um, OK. How?

My skin-care products protect against free radicals — But paid radicals are a different story, right?

I could talk for a day, but I’d like to go further — I don’t want to hear you talk for a day, let alone more than that! At least he used further correctly.

If you need an extra 100 percent for a party … — Sorry, I don’t have anymore to give.

If your mess causes you stress, and sometimes little kids … I could go so many ways with this one, but I’ll stick with, isn’t it the mess that got you little kids, and the stress, in the first place?

And finally, a joke I like:

At a networking meeting, everyone was asked to conclude their 30-second commercial/elevator pitch by telling where they wanted to retire. One guy said, “I’ll retire when I need new Michelins!”

I laughed. Nobody else visibly or vocally reacted.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 13, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

They Didn’t Hear What They Said


Listen, my children, and you shall hear, some failing words to not revere.

I heard networkers say the following, and I shake my head and wonder. In the last example, I shake my head and laugh.

You saw the launch of Elon Musk — No, I saw the launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket that carried one of Musk’s Tesla Roadster. Musk, as far as I know, is still on Earth.

I’m opening a restaurant on the moon. The food is great, but there isn’t any atmosphere — In addition to the rim shot, I’d like to add that there is atmosphere on the moon. Granted, it’s very scant, almost negligible compared to Earth and inhospitable to humans, but it’s an atmosphere just the same.

Because I’m in this group, I went to my first marijuana store — Just being in this networking group has nothing to do with going to a marijuana store.  The speaker might have meant, “Because I’m in this group, you’ll appreciate that I went to my first marijuana store.”

I thought my car was dying on the vine — OK, I’ve got two problems here. First, “dying on the vine” is a cliche, and we all know that you should avoid cliches like the plague.

Second, a car doesn’t die on the vine. Tomatoes do. Grapes do. Cars don’t. They die on the road, or in a garage or driveway; or in the case of certain sequels, on movie screens (I’m looking at you, Pixar).

Now, I realize that to die on the vine means “to fail, as from lack of support, especially at an early stage.” I know this could happen to a car — and if it did, it would be a lemon, which grows on trees and, therefore, can’t die on a vine.

What’s the biggest reason people don’t get their picture taken? They’re ugly! — A photographer asked the question; another networker answered. I wish I had thought of it.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

March 8, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Read This and Try not to Wince


I am in the process of revamping my networking pitches. I want to alternate educating and inspiring that I can solve people’s communication problems.

Regarding education, I’ve taken to printing up and showing signs that I’ve found online that exemplify bad communication, for one reason or another.

The photo below, of a Dairy Queen, is an example of a double meaning. Too bad the persons responsible didn’t realize it.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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March 6, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Word of Wisdom from Somebody Wiser Than Me


My wife sent me this. She got it from the Smart School House Facebook page. I thought I would share.

If you fail, never give up because FAIL means “First Attempt in Learning.”

End is not the end because END means “Effort Never Dies.”

If you get no as an answer, remember that NO means “Next Opportunity.”

Positive thinking!

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You the Lone Male They Seek?


Somebody in one of my networking groups sent me this photo.

IMG_0657.JPGWhen I first saw this photo, I thought that this store caters to humans and goats. But my friend pointed out that only one male is part of the desired clientele.

Well, this is a women’s clothing store. Maybe it’s intentional. The I looked on the website and found Fred Levine, men’s buyer.

I tried to call the store during normal business hours to see if it was intentional. No one answered.

Thanks to Richard C. for the photo.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

February 8, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not Wrong, but Not as Clear as Possible


There is a good reason the New York Times is considered one of the world’s top newspapers. With 122 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other paper, and with the largest  combined print and online circulation (and with Donald Trump often calling it “failing New York Times”), it’s the paper to which all journalists should aspire. It’s historic (witness its landmark Supreme Court libel ruling New York Times v. Sullivan and its Pentagon Papers ruling New York Times Co. v. United States) and it’s credible.

I didn’t originally understand the following paragraph, written by Maureen Dowd and appearing in the Feb. 3, 2018 edition. It’s in a story about Uma Thurman talking about Harvey Weinstein.

“Pulp Fiction” made Weinstein rich and respected, and Thurman says he introduced her to President Barack Obama at a fund-raiser as the reason he had his house.

Huh? He had his house because he introduced her to a president? Wow. I didn’t know Obama was in the habit of giving out houses because of introductions.

OK. I know what the intent here is: “Pulp Fiction,” was so successful that it made Weinstein enough money to buy his house. But when I first read the paragraph, I took it to mean that the reason he got his house was because he introduced Thurman to Obama. Then I thought that Weinstein was crediting Thurman with Weinstein’s house, which is only indirectly true (the real credit should go to everybody who helped make the movie the success it was, starting with Quentin Tarantino).

The reality is one has to be really careful to make sure what’s written is exactly what is meant, and it’s not easy to do when you’re the writer.

Thanks to Richard C. for the idea.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Unexpected Addition to the Museum of Failure Exhibition


This past weekend, I went to an exhibit at the A+D Museum in Los Angeles about failure, specifically about ideas, products and services that failed for one reason or another (it’s from the Museum of Failure in Helsingborg, Sweden).

The exhibit was simple: A product, idea or service, such as the Betamax, the Edsel, the Apple Newton, Blockbuster, New Coke, Bic for Her and the Skipper doll that grew breasts by moving her arm, was displayed along with some text.

Most of the time, the text was humorous, but I found one instance in which somebody made what they thought was a correction.

 

IMG_20180128_150650.jpg

When I saw this, I laughed (and had my wife snap a picture). Lay is the action word; lie refers to a state of reclining along a horizontal plane.

It’s tricky, and I can understand why many people might think lie would be correct because it’s understood that the writer is suggesting you go lie down on something, but in this case, lay is correct. Had the text read, You might want to lie down on a couch/bed/ground/horizontal plane, that would have been correct, too, but just writing lay down is like saying, “lay yourself down,” which is an action, which takes the action word lay.

That’s no lie. Remember this, and there will be no failure.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Riddle I Can Appreciate


When I go to networking meetings, I expect to hear some kind of nonsense coming out of people’s mouths. But recently, one guy got up and offered a riddle: What is an eight-letter word in which you take away one letter, it leaves you with a different word, and then if you take away another letter, it leaves you with yet another word, and so on?

Actually, this guy usually offers riddles: “Who makes it has no need of it. Who buys it has no use for it. Who uses it can neither see nor feel it. What is it?” (A coffin)

Or “What is light as a feather but not even the strongest man in the world can hold it for more than a few minutes?” (Air)

But this one, really impressed me. The answer is starting.

Take away the second t, and you get staring;

Take away the a, and you get string;

Take away the r, and you get sting;

Take away the t, and you get sing;

Take away the g, and you get sin;

Take away the s, and you get in;

Take away the n, and you get I.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Makes Sense Only in Context


It has been awhile since I’ve gone to a networking meeting, but last week, I returned. This time, I bring examples of words people said that made sense — if you were there.

I’m not in the closet because I’ve been in the business 50 years — Of course, plenty of people in the entertainment industry, including some who have been in the business 50 years are gay. Others are gay but don’t feel they can come out.

And then there is the person who said this: She really sells closets.

He helped defeat Prop 8 so we have gay marriage in California — This speaker told of a relative that was an outspoken opponent of Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that banned any marriage in California that wasn’t between a man and woman. Unfortunately, the voters approved Prop 8; it wasn’t defeated.

Later, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it unconstitutional because it violated the Equal Protection Clause (Fourteenth Amendment), so had the relative been an attorney who argued the case, the speaker would have been correct. But he wasn’t.

As we celebrate your nephew’s life and his passing — The networking group’s president expressed his sympathy for a member whose nephew died at a young age. But I don’t think anyone was celebrating his passing.

You want to live for free, you go to Oklahoma. That’s what Oklahoma’s for — Can you really live for free in Oklahoma? I doubt it. The speaker actually made a point that land in Oklahoma is far less expensive than in California.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 23, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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