Words Women Use

My wife sent me the following words women use. I have two comments:

  1. Women already know what these words really mean.
  2. If guys don’t know this stuff, it may already be too late.

“Fine.” This is the word women use to end an argument when they’re right, and you need to shut up.

“Five minutes.” If she is getting dressed, this means half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

“Nothing.” This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with “nothing” usually end in “fine.”

“Go ahead.” This is a dare, not permission. Don’t do it!

Loud sigh. This is not actually a word but a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you’re an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing.

“That’s OK.” This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. “That’s OK” means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

“Thanks.” A woman is thanking you—do not question or faint. Just say you’re welcome.

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Going Amish: The Pen and Pencil

In “Need to Get Focused? Go Analog” at fastcompany.com, Drake Baer made the case for those primitive writing instruments–the pen, the pencil. “Handwriting trains your brain,” Baer wrote, according to a Wall Street Journal story.

The basic idea is that using more senses is better, smarter. Making strokes with a pen or pencil is more creative than tapping keys. It slows down the writing process and increases thinking power.

So, could a pen or pencil and paper be a better way to write, or at least to write an initial draft? It worked for writers for hundreds of years. They had no other choice.

Referenced in the story, blogger Harry Marks wrote the last 40,000 words of his second novel using a pen and paper. He said his book turned out better. Part of what helped Marks was being “unplugged.” “I’ve learned the only things worse than procrastination are distractions,” he wrote at Curious Rat (his blog), “and if I’m going to overcome them, I need to cut them out of my life as much as possible.”

Marks called it “going Amish.” I like that.

I do a little bit of old-fashioned writing, usually in my notebook. I like the idea. I enjoy watching words and sentences form on paper. But, honestly, I’m on my laptop 99 percent of the time.

What about you? Do you ever actually write, putting pen or pencil to paper?

Latest Dumb Euphemisms for Getting Canned

Beware if you hear these words around the water cooler, says Reader’s Digest in its March 2009 issue.

  • Restructuring plan
    Restructuring program
    Company-wide restructuring plan that includes staffing reductions in all divisions
    Planned reduction
    Head-count reduction
    Reduction in force
    Reducing our current employee total
    Global workforce reduction and alignment
    Repositioning
    Aligning operations and resources worldwide
    Consolidating operations
    Downsizing
    Rightsizing
    Smartsizing
    Offboarded
    Rebalancing the level of human capital

And finally, the tried and true …

We’ve decided to go in another direction.

Have a favorite?

I like “rebalancing the level of human capital.” The person who came up with that is qualified for a senior vice president slot in human resources. I also like “offboarded,” although it sounds a little bit too much like “waterboarding.”

5 Tips for Finding the Right Words

Finding the right words or word. This is the challenge for all who write to inform and persuade. While I have yet to discover a magic formula, I do have a few ideas on the subject. Following are five reliable tips.

1. Avoid clichés.
Cliché-laden copy lacks originality and spark. Clichés are other people’s words, not your own.

2. Rewrite.
It has been said many times that “writing is rewriting.” Seldom does one draft the perfect headline, script, article, or Web page. Get it down, then work on it. And then work on it some more.

3. Edit.
Here’s a secret: Finding the right words or word is often eliminating the extraneous. A good default is to simplify, clarify and cut copy. You can always add or change a word later.

4. Use a thesaurus.
In English, there are lots of words to choose from. So brighten up those verbs. Find the ideal adjective. But don’t try to impress with big or obscure words. Instead, stick to words that aid comprehension.

5. Read copy aloud.

This is the final test. How do the words sound? Your ear will tell you which words don’t belong.