Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pronouns and the Passive Voice

I'm generally a lazy man. And sloppy too, as my wife will attest. My strength is that I recognize this up front, and take action to mitigate those faults.

My job requires that I do so. Did I mention that I'm an international jewel thief?

So when I interact with my merry band of thieves, I'm always lecturing them precision. Attention to detail. Peeling the onion back so far, you cry. Keeps you out of jail, I reason.

So yesterday, I had what could be best described as a significant emotional event. We have a mission for next week. Yesterday, I asked my subaltern for an update on where we were. Didn't like what I heard, so I lit him up, gathered the tribe and basically went to town.

At this point, it got ugly.

Well, they're a good crew, and working hard to recover. We'll be good.

But the experience brought out a little tick in me. Namely, the "Well, he said...."

"He"? Who's "he"? God, Buddha, the guy who mows my lawn. Folks tend to over use pronouns, and it makes for bad communication and mission failure. I'm working really hard to squash the use of pronouns, at least when conversations start.

He would be pleased.

So know I have pronouns and passive voice usage to add to my list.

Precision is not about limiting collateral damage. Precision is about destroying your assigned target. I think we've inverted that thinking.

Verbally, I mean.

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