Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Long Reach of Reaching Out To

 I am today compelled to confess that there is a universal and apparently well-beloved buzz-phrase that I would gladly devote my life to seeking out, destroying, and driving a stake through its insipid, meaningless, miserable little heart.

It is "to reach out to."

Once this was a phrase reserved for touchy-feely types like psychologists, HR professionals, and guys trying to appear sensitive to impress women. And so we had: "Yes, Justin, I've been planning to reach out to you;" "She's been despairing over the state of her Haiku, Armand, I reached out to her yesterday;" and "Why don't you and I reach out to Matthew who will reach out to Constance...."

And then everything exploded!  Everyone began "reaching out to." Lawyers, actuaries, real estate brokers, the guy in the hardware store, NASCAR drivers, and even corporate executives who don’t know that their employees have first names all crossed the threshhold into an unbridled state of "reaching out to."

And so we now have "I'd like to reach out to you about your plumbing aluminum siding .... Tax audit... mufflers...the 25 bucks you owe me," and so on down the line.

Once someone e-mailed me that she'd like to "reach back out to me." I wasn't sure if she meant she wanted to reach out to me for the second time or to reach backwards to reach out to me because she apparently thought I was standing behind her.

Wouldn't it be simpler and less pretentious to most of the time just say "I've been meaning to get in touch with her,” “I’m gonna call ya” or “reach for the skies, this is a stick-up!?" That last phrase, I submit, is the only one where the word “reach” is actually indispensable.

I suppose there's still a place for "reaching out to" when it's said by touchy-feely types like psychologists and HR professionals. And, oh yeah, I probably wouldn't complain if Scarlett Johansson wanted to "reach out to me."

I might even reach back out to her!

Note: This is an expanded version of a comment I posted on "The HR Junkyard,"  a Human Resources blog written by @tlcolson (Tammy), one of my first friends on Twitter and a fellow HR professional. (Well, she's actually a woman --- not a fellow --- but you know what I'm talking about!)  

Typically I don’t recommend particular blogs. You may have noticed there’s no blogroll in my blog. True, that’s partially because with six you get blogroll, and I’m only one Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute Boomer. But the General Tzo’s has filled me up for the most part so I'll pass on the blogroll.

However, the main reason I don’t recommend blogs is because there are just too many good ones to choose from. There are funny ones, literary ones, touching ones, informative ones – blogs to make you laugh, cry, and even upchuck, if that’s what you need at the moment.

One thing I do know --- Why are you wasting your time looking at mine with all the gems out there just a point and click away? What the hell's wrong with you??  No wonder you hardly ever got any dates!  Go!  Scat!!  Before you're as old as I am!!!


Anonymous said...

You make me laugh *rotfl*

Is this "reaching out" thing an American-ism? We don't use that phrase much over here unless, as you said, it is used in a psychology type way. If someone said they wanted to reach out to me,I would assume they thought I was mentally unstable!

Julie said...

I think it is that it makes those who do the "reaching out" feel somehow more superior to those that "need to be reached", when in reality they are likely just trying to cop a feel. Ooops, did I say that outloud. Yeah, you Scarlett and about 6 bazillion other men (or women as the case may be).

JunkyardHR said...

Thanks for the shout out. I really appreciate you reaching out to continue the synergy of the dialogue.

Common Sense really does need to kill the buzzwords.

And, FTR, you always get me ROFLMAO.

Can acronyms be your next victims?

Perry Block said...


I am shocked to learn that "reaching out to" has not yet reached out to the UK! What is wrong with our nation of "reaching out to-ers" that we only reach out to those who also reach out to us?

Personally I am willing to reach out to anybody anywhere who might be willing to reach out to me --- including Scarlett Johansson, whom I'm certain wouldn't reach out to me even if I were the last reaching out to-er on earth to reach out to.

Karen, here's reaching out to you, kid!


Perry Block said...


Yes, your comment about --- if I understand your parlance correctly --- "trying to cop a feel" has been duly noted and recorded. Your continued participation in this blog is under review.

I pledged when I started this blog that I would always work clean. And I have continued to do so, with the one exception of Bardoron5 Tweet # 671, in which I turned the name of singer-songwriter "Jack Johnson" into a transitive action verb.

Come to think of it, that comment too has been duly noted and recorded, and my continued participation in this blog is under review.

Thanks, Julie!


Perry Block said...


Thanks again for all of your help and support when I was new to Twitter! Makes me feel a little guilty about all those followers of yours I ripped off while you were busy helping me with the optimal phrasing to Bardoron5 Tweet #671.

I would very much like to do a piece on acronyms! ROFLMAO!!! Love it! ROFLMAO!!! (Umm, is he the same Ralph LeMeo who was always drunk at the SHRM Leadership Conferences?)

Oh, and if you'd like me to do a piece on acronyms, could you give me an example of one to work with? Thanks, Tammy!