Monday, January 23, 2012

Don’t use “issues” foolishly

Abusing the word issues can make you look foolish. For example, a recent CNN Money article titled “Doctors going broke” quotes Marc Lion, a CPA who “advises independent doctor practices about their finances,” as follows:

“A lot of independent practices are starting to see serious financial issues.”

This language is general and euphemistic. For example, it uses see as a euphemism for confront, experience or suffer. It also uses issues as a euphemism for difficulties, problems or setbacks.

The quotation sounds weak by itself; it sounds even weaker in the context of the article, which includes these strong words from doctors:

“…I will have no choice but to close my doors.”

“...we still barely made payroll last paycheck…. I might seriously consider leaving medicine…. If [a Medicare pay cut] goes through, it will put us under.”

And these strong words from an executive of a hospital cancer center:

“Many [doctors] are too proud to admit that they are on the verge of bankruptcy…. [they] see no way out of the downward spiral… [one oncologist] hasn’t taken a salary from his private practice in over a year. He owes drug companies $1.6 million…”

Every one of these quotations is more specific and more direct than the financially advising CPA’s quotation. In this company, he sounds non-committal at best.

The Takeaway: Millions of your fellow Americans make themselves look foolish by abusing the word issues. But you don’t have to imitate them. Preserve your dignity and probity.

See disclaimer.

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