To whom it may concern …


I don’t know if there are any words that are said over and over again and drive you up the wall, but I want to share some with you that I hear at work 1000 times a day. The English language has thousands upon thousands of words in it. Surely people could come up with another word in exchange for a word that is repetitive. This repetitive stuff reminds me of Chinese water torture. At first it doesn’t seem like a problem, then it becomes annoying, then it becomes torture, and the person feels like surrendering the information he/she has before one more drop falls on his/her forehead. I would like to suggest some words that are perfectly usable to replace some of these overused words, before I hear it one more time and run screaming from the building. So, in order to help those folks who cannot come up with a new word to break the monotony, and to save me from going stark-raving mad, I am addressing this letter. (You folks know who you are.)

To Whom It May Concern, in other words, to the guilty parties who use the same words excessively,

Please stop using the following same words over and over again. Break out of your shell and instead try a variation on the words. Surprise me!

Process – ugggh! Maybe it is a word required for employment where I work, but now that you have been hired and working there for a few years, please stop using it. You are driving me batty! Please try these words instead – method, system, plan, procedure, or practice.

Fluid, fluidity – this word has been coined by one of my bosses, and now the folks in administration have picked up the terms. And frequently it is combined with the P word – process! Oy vey! Try this – flexible, adaptable, or changeable.

Aha moment – used when someone learns a lesson from something that didn’t go exactly right. Well, actually, I couldn’t find this entry in the thesaurus, so maybe I can suggest a word or two of my own. Learning moment, teaching moment, or something came to light when…

Regs, as in regulations – Rules, ordinances, standing order, statute, or law.

Non-compliance – Uncooperative, rule breakage, unorthodox, or unconventional.

Common sense – something someone in administration accuses most of the staff of not having. First of all, this isn’t a nice thing to say, but if you really, really must diss your staff, try these on for size – good sense, good judgment, horse sense, basic intelligence, or native reason.

And last but not least, orient (not speaking of the Far East) – familiarize, acclimate, demonstrate or teach a new employee, train. And please, please, I beg  you, again, to stop using the word “orientate”! There is no such freaking word. You are either in orientation or you are being oriented or you are orienting a new employee.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

PS – There is a slim gap between which word makes me crazier– process or orientate. I think orientate gets my goat a wee bit more than process, and only because I have told you people who use this word, that there is no such word, and to please use the correct word form, and you still aren’t. (Maybe it’s a conspiracy by them to drive me bonkers.)

I like to give out little gifts at Christmas to my coworkers. Maybe I’ll find some pocket edition thesauri to give out as presents. Until then, maybe I ought to try Chinese water torture. It’s got to be less painful.

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