Issues (but the problem is...!)


There’s one word that seems to be being flogged to death at the moment. The word is issues. Everybody seems to have them from the loftiest to the humblest - from the top dogs to the man on the Clapham omnibus. Do you have them, too?


Hi Alan

For all intents and purposes, the word problem no longer exists in the world of business. Companies no longer have any problems. Absolutely none! Never ever! A problem is much too negative and could cause the stock price to plummet should that word even be whispered.

No, instead businesses have only issues nowadays. :lol:


Hey, what are you complaining about! :? It is nicer to live in a world of issues than in a world of problems!

Imagine we had problems with the atmosphere, I mean we couldn?t stop the Ozon holes? That were a problem i.e. anything like a big mountain we weren?t capable to climb it up! What a mess!! No, let?s make an issue from that then it would be easy to solve, weren?t it? I only wonder who were capable to stop that? But that is another issue!

Sorry, I have a lot of problems with the word issue. It seems to have lots of different meanings. :?


Thanks for bringing back memories of one of my old neighbourhoods – Clapham Common, to be precise. I moved there from Richmond (quite a contrast, eh?). Then, after changing house twice more, ended up living in Holland Park, in one of those lovely Victorian houses converted into bedsitters.

As for the matter at issue (no, that wasn’t a sneeze, thank you!), that’s where I take issue with you (only as far as I’m concerned – just wanted to flaunt the phrase, I guess). Admittedly, issues are more interesting than problems, but I don’t normally say ‘I have an issue’ or ‘I have issues with this or that’. Have I confused the issue now? Anyway, let’s not make an issue of it.

How about this old use of the word?
If someone dies without issue, they have no children.

If they didn’t cause the problem, it’s a challenge. If they caused it, it’s a situation.

Once I got a tech support guy who kept calling a problem with my modem a “situation”. I got sick of it and told him it was okay to call it a problem, and to tell his boss I know that just because it’s a problem, it doesn’t mean they caused it. The man went into hysterical laughter.

Even more bizarre is that fact that in the US many companies instruct employees never to apologize for any mistake, even if a problem is obviously their fault. In our twisted legal system, apologizing is an admission of guilt, and it can mean the company will have to pay astronomical damages in court that may put them out of business.

Hi Jamie

I had a boss back in the late 70s (a regional manager in Michigan ;)) who refused to discuss “problems”. If I dared to utter that word, he literally refused to talk. To discuss how to solve a “problem”, the problem had to be referred to as an opportunity. :roll:

Saying “How can we solve this opportunity” always felt pretty darn stupid to me. :lol:


The guy says: “sorry”
You say: “no opportunity”
or “It’s not an issue”
I know it’s sad, but I’ve never used the word issue.
It’s gonna change from this very moment.
It’s so bad that everybody’s sleeping already around me.
It’s an issue.

Hey, I’m still here, Spencer (half asleep, though)!

‘No problem’ is still a fixed expression, I think – at least I’ve never heard ‘no opportunity/issue’ in this sense :slight_smile: !

The word ‘problem’ has kept its rank in my vocabulary, with ‘issue’ coming far behind.

So that makes two of us not swimming with the tide!

My dear Spencer! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Thank you! I had a wonderful laugh from that. :lol:

That wasn’t quite the context I meant, but you managed to illustrate the ridiculousness of using “opportunity” to mean “problem” wonderfully! :lol:

I’m still laughing…


Hey Amy,
I should’ve worked with that guy, I would’ve made him hang himself in a week,trust me :slight_smile:

Hi Brother Rifleman! :wink:

I trust to you! If you would join to a world?s government, things would become much easier, I?m sure. :lol:


I think it all depends on how you look at a situation. For example, if somebody is talking about a new idea, a new product, a new company – in other words, a new opportunity – then there often are people who counter by saying something like Yes, this is a good idea but the problem is and it won’t work for us because …
They use all their energy to explain why something will not work describing all the problems that get in their way instead of looking at the chances.

So maybe it’s not just a single word that sometimes should be replaced but an entire phrase that shows your way of thinking. Instead of saying but the problem is you might as well say and we could use this idea to improve our situation…[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: HR person reviews work performance of employee.[YSaerTTEW443543]

Michael, my friend,
don’t get me wrong, I’m not that kind of guy, I’m only ironic a litle bit sometimes. That’s actually my fault, if something is total nonsense to me I always duble it, so it becomes obviusly nonsese to everybody else too.
I mostly forget the fact that you guys don’t know me personally, so you might think I’m serious.
Sorry Michael, I hope you’re not disappointed in me just because I’m not that trucker-shooting maniac as you thought about me, but I promise you I’ll change!
I’m gonna shoot every one of them one by one till my own riffle gets sick of the whole bloodbath thing and asks me to stop being so unreasonable. :slight_smile:

are you sure if you forbid to use a word it could change things? For better?
Remember 1984?
The duck-talk?
If I think of something as a problem, then let me call it a problem, not a gift. Otherwise whenever I hear the word “oppurtunity” I might think of it as problem, and after some years spending like this I have to pay a lot of money to a shrink to cure me out of this whole mess. :slight_smile:
Anyway, if the word “problem” itself could cause someone a problem, then he’s the one who needs help. :slight_smile:

Ooops, I just read your post again and realised you didn’t want to change the word, only the way of peoples thinking.
Anyway, if there IS a problem then you need people to point at it, otherwise it wont be solved, only ignored.
Sorry Torsten, a was working on this post for so long, I just don’t want to take off the whole middle part just because you didn’t say those things I thought you said.
Let’s pretend you wanted to clean English from the word “problem” once and for all, but I didn’t let you. :slight_smile:

Hi Spencer!

That?s what I like at you! Your open and fancyful way of discribing your thoughts. Don?t worry, you don?t have to shoot the truckers in fact :wink: . At least not to keep our Brotherhood!
I think you know that I was kidding!

By the way, have you finished your exaggerated work or are you still up to your ears in work?


Spencer, you are right – eliminating words doesn’t automatically mean you have eliminated the concept that word describes. It’s good to hear you have read Nineteen Eighty-Four and even remember Newspeak and its ramifications. I also agree with you that if you replace one word with another you still have the same result. If you avoid words like problems you might soon end up using issue or challenge in the same way.

So, it’s not so much about replacing words, it’s more about raising awareness of the connection between language and thinking. I believe that the language a person uses reflexts their way of thinking. It show the culture they were raised with and the mentality they embrace.

As with any other tool, you can use language in various ways depending on our goals. If you use the “But-the-problem-is” (mind you, I’m referring to the entire phrase rather than just the word problem) – your intention most likely is to convince the other person that their suggestion won’t work. If you use the “Yes-and-we-can-also-do-the-following-approach”, you want to pull together with the other person. You are working WITH them rather than AGAINST them.

All too often I hear people speak about problems instead of solutions. It goes without saying that life is full of problems, we need problems to solve them – otherwise, what would be the purpose of life? So, why do we always have to dwell on the obvious – the fact that there are problems? Why not also see the other side of the story – the solutions?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: A business executive asks his PA to change his schedule[YSaerTTEW443543]

Let’s hope you’re being more ironical than serious here, Torsten! I wouldn’t like the idea that the purpose of life is to solve problems :slight_smile: !

Hi Torsten

That’s basically my point. Many companies today say that they embrace the idea of “thinking positively” and I think the idea is good. But probably the majority of companies don’t really do much to achieve this. For example, employees are often simply told “You have to use the word opportunity instead of problem from now on” and that’s basically the full extent of the “think positive” effort. I find that ridiculous. That’s a complete failure to “walk the talk”. :wink: For me that only reflects a “we’ve-heard-this-is-supposed-to-be-good-but-we-don’t-want-to-waste-money-on-it” mentality. And this type of management directive is usually simply ridiculed by the rank-and-file employees.


Hi Torsten,
I think words have some power all right,but not the same way as you described it.
One uses words to express itself. Your own words have no power on your thinking, you can’t force your own personality. For this kind of things you need a professional, a shrink, otherwise you can damage your own mind.
It’s like in the Matrix. You want to see the real world, or take the red pill, and melt in the mass. (or blue pill, who knows already, who cares anyway)
I myself like better if there is someone with an attitude of this kind, and if I say something then he tries to get me on a mistake.
Life is so unpredictable, you need someone who helps you prepare for things. If your idea is worth to try, you must be able to convince all the sceptics around you.
I don’t need no puppets saying “yes, good idea, let’s do it together,as a bunch of sheep”
Better if he says:
" sounds good bro, but what will you do if this, or that comes up?"
And I say: “Then I do this, or that”
or I say :“Darn, I’ve never thought of THIS man, let’s forget about go visiting that slaughterhouse then” :slight_smile:
If you need an ally then find someone who really thinks that your idea is cool, and you don’t have to be a Hannibal Lecter to get them on your side. :slight_smile:

Spencer, how do you know that my words don’t have any impact on the way I think? Why does selecting words deliberately automatically mean to force my own personality? What is forcing my own personality by your definition?

Spencer, why do you think I have to convince all the skeptics around me? Why would I surround myself with skeptics in the first place? You probably heard the saying A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. If I think an idea is good then I can act upon it. When we started there were quite a few people around us who were more than skeptical.

Spencer, if you think the words and phrases you choose have no influence on your thinking then this is so. I can’t influence your way of thinking. However, I can share my experiences and my thoughts with you. And to me, the words I select are very important because I use words when I think. I know there are people who claim they think in pictures not in words. Fine. Then the pictures you select when you think determine the way you think, don’t they?

There is a company that seems to agree with me as their slogan reads What good thinking can do.

Let me know what you think.

TOEIC short conversations: A customer complains about bad service[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten,
I thoroughly agree with all the words you said.
I think there was some misunderstanding between us.
When I said there is some power in the words, but not the way you described it, I meant these:

  • If you say something to me, by the information I’ll be more experienced, therefore I’m a more experienced peson than I was. I’ve changed, in other words.
  • If you say something to yourself, then you receive no unknown information, you only try to convince yourself.
    It’s still all right, when it’s your best intention to use your own voice as a tool, and you’re not forced to “cure” yourself by an other man, of being so negative.
    I think if someone ordered me to use your my own voice to make up my mind, and support HIS ideas, then whenever I’d say aloud the allowed words, even if I really meant them, I’d feel like sh*t.
    That’s why I said it’s dangerous.
    About skeptics:
    The whole conversation started with those guys, who always say: This is the problem with this, and that.
    I call them skeptics, (I’m one of them, by the way)
    But I might have misread something, and this word doesn’t fit the description, then it’s my bad, sorry.
    Anyway, if you were a boss of these guys, and you were tired to see their so negative faces, I dont think you would come up with “say it after me: THERE ARE NO PROBLEMS, I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT, I CAN DO BETTER”
    and all this kind of stupid shrink stuff.
    I’d say: “So you have a problem? What is that problem exactly, let’s see if we can work it out. That’s why we are a TEAM, not a bunch of happy losers” :slight_smile:
    I know I’m getting a bit annoying, but this is my real problem with this whole manager stuff what they teach all over. Whenever I sense this " I don’t even know you, but you’re my best body, I smile so much it hurts already, (JUST BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT ME TO)" I always feel like a stranger, 'cause I just can’t stand it.
    What I really mean to say is if there more people like me, (I hope so) then just let’s forget these wishes like the world would be better, if people were more positive than they are.
    One more thought, and I stop being a pain in the neck, I promise:
    Just because someone recognises a problem, it doesn’t mean he’s desperate from that moment until the problem is solved finally.
    He’s still could be a happy man in during.
    Thanks for letting me share it :slight_smile: (Slim Shady)