Tag Archives: How to Say It

Desperate times

I just activated my emergency Snickers bar.

You might be saying to yourself, I thought she was forced to give up chocolate. Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I made it through Halloween without a single piece of chocolate, which took great will power; but I was committed to good health and respectful of my dietary restrictions. However, I did stash one Snickers bar, perhaps as a measure of security, where I could get to it in an emergency.

Recently, some minor yet frustrating annoyances have graced our doorstep, which have called for generous amounts of patience and flexibility. The first was October’s fender bender and the various inconveniences that ensued.

I fully appreciate that the flies in my ointment are mere gnats compared to what the world’s poor, sick and homeless face every day. All the more reason to face one’s irritations with proper perspective.

So, as my gnats began to reproduce and mutate, I consulted my handy new manual, How to Say It, to be sure I addressed each inconvenience—and the person behind it—appropriately. Chapter 13 on Complaints offered a wealth of tips and techniques for airing one’s grievances, firmly but politely. I drew upon the insights offered in Chapter 13 to respond to statements like, We’re sorry, Mrs. Welch, but the rug you ordered in August, that was to be delivered in September, might (but we cannot offer any guarantee) be delivered in mid-January, and We’re sorry, Mrs. Welch, but the home project that was to be done in October is delayed indefinitely. We hope to start before Christmas (but we cannot offer any guarantee).

Chapter 13 gave me the right words but it provided no guarantee. Or result. I was on the edge.

With the ointment now full of horse flies, the only weapon I had left was an illegal, fun-sized Snickers bar.

Now, following a Snickers breakfast and paying the piper for it, I will leave  to catch an early flight with an impossibly tight connection. I will be optimistic about not hearing your flight is delayed, your flight has been cancelled or you missed your connection. (Heaven knows, the airlines offer no guarantee.)

Either way, I know the newsstand sells grown-up sized Snickers bars. And extra strength Tums.

Optimism aside, is it an omen that an enormous fly is buzzing overhead as I write this?


Filed under Food, Health, Holidays, Rants and Raves, Reading, Travel

Hefty and handy

I don’t know how many will share my enthusiasm, but I just found something to really sink my teeth into—though if it were a sandwich, I’d have trouble getting my teeth around it. It’s that big.

It practically jumped right out of the Border’s bargain bin into my welcoming arms. Nearly three pounds and 890 pages of meat. It’s called The Big Book of How to Say It. You may already know it; it’s been out for 12 years.

Of course, the title caught my eye. At first, I took it for another tome for word geeks. Actually, it’s two tomes, How to Say It by Rosalie Maggio and How to Say It At Work by Jack Griffin.

Cringe not; this book has little to do with grammar and everything to do with writing and speaking one’s mind in the most thoughtful, personal and effective way—under almost any practical social or business scenario.

The Big Book is also not an etiquette book. While offering suggestions on the most appropriate way to express one’s thoughts, the focus is on choosing the right words and tone for the occasion, customized for the addresser and addressee alike.

I immediately bought it for a special someone for Christmas. Now I’m reluctant to give it up. There are more than 60 chapters dealing with everything from expressing (and accepting) a simple condolence to applying for a job, and 58 topics in between. Each chapter includes several options for “How to Say It” as well as “What Not to Say.”  There’s also a mini-thesaurus in each chapter, along with handy writing tips to suit the situation.

Apologies. Holiday letters. Complaints. Job terminations. Negotiating a promotion. Renegotiating a deadline. Accepting a compliment. Taking criticism. Handling a snafu. Agreeing to a drug test. Announcing the cancellation of a wedding. It’s all there.

As a bonus , in one of the chapters dealing with getting a job, there’s a whole section on How to Say it with Clothes, including 28 tips for men and 23 for women. Just remember, the book was written in 1998.

If you’re looking for just the right gift for everyone on your shopping list this holiday season–word nerd, etiquette geek or lay person–then grab a forklift and head on over to Borders. You could order online but the shipping might cost more than the book.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Holidays, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Reading