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Let's Not Be Proactive

   A Few Comments on Non-Words and Illogical Phrases

   Fans of the Dilbert comic strip might remember a panel in which the pointy haired boss says he is going to be more proactive. He immediately fires Dilbert who says, "For What?" His boss replies, "I don't know yet. That's the problem with being proactive."

   That's not the only problem with proactive. My 2129 page Webster's dictionary and weight lifting implement has pro, proa, proach, and proal, but no proactive. That's because proactive isn't a word - yet - as if that matters. While we wait with dread as this non-word worms its way into our language, let's consider using real and more effective words, such as intervene, anticipate or prevent.

   It's a sure bet that your answers to the previous question on proactive was... wait a minute.  If the bet is a sure thing, then it isn't really much of a bet, is it?

   I almost made a ginormous mistake there. Worse would be to seriously use ginormous in a real sentence.

   Question: If a college or university is co-educational, it is attended by male and female students. Why are only the females called coeds?

   There is really no such thing as a foreseeable future.

   When one of your co-workers says he or she believes your suggestion doesn't help the problem, point out that you aren't trying to help the problem; you're trying to solve the problem.

   I could be wrong, but.... If you really believed you were wrong, you'd keep your mouth shut and your fingers off the keyboard.

   This leads us directly to, It goes without saying.... When you're going to say/write something, don't lead off with a statement saying you're about to do just the opposite.

   And one more - I'm not one to complain, but.... Has anyone out there ever heard this phrase without it being immediately followed by a complaint?

   You have heard intelligent people say something centers around something else. Please tell me, how in the hell do you do that? The center is the mid-point, so how can something be the mid-point and at the same time be around the mid-point?

   The drive to make small words into larger word-like assemblages of letters so that the writer feels more knowledgeable, gives us such non-words as commonality and physicality.

  The problem with non-words and ridiculous phrases is that the use of them encourages further abuse of the language - piling on. "I could be wrong and this really doesn't help the problem, but it should go without saying that the physicality of their warehouse operations for the foreseeable future will remain a ginormous challenge unless we take a proactive approach here."

   If we want to improve our business writing, let's all try not to be proactive about it. Okay?