Word Nerd Wednesday: No Need

Happy Word Nerd Wednesday! Today’s word story involves a unique superpower. Well, it may not be a superpower to most people. But it is to me.

A group of people are waiting in the front of a restaurant where Coral is working as a hostess. They assume she’ll ask how many people are in their party, but she doesn’t. She simply glances at them and says, “Right this way,” leading them to a table for eight, the exact number of their party even though not everyone has arrived yet.

Baffled, one man asks Coral how she could have possibly known how many people were in their group.

She smiles and explains how she determined the correct number. There were five people waiting. One man was holding two coats, his and a woman’s. Everyone else was still wearing their coats, so Carol assumed the man’s friend or date was in the restroom. One woman, with a wedding ring, kept glancing at the doors every time they opened, presumably waiting for her spouse to arrive or maybe a friend. And one man was holding a purse like it was going to infect him, so clearly it wasn’t his bag, but possibly belonged to the woman just outside the doors who was on the phone.

“Five plus three, obviously eight,” Coral says with a smile, leaving them all impressed with her attention to detail.

“Obviously eight” = obviate (OB-vee-ate), meaning to anticipate and prevent or make unnecessary. In this story, Coral obviates the need to ask the number of people in the group, instead using her own deductive skills to guess the correct number.

It’s a special power, the ability to anticipate someone’s needs. It requires attention to detail and the skill to connect the pieces in a meaningful way. It combines knowledge with application, a powerful fusion that, when handled correctly, can make an incredible difference.

In this situation, Coral simply obviates the need to ask a question. But her skills are broad, allowing her to anticipate potential difficulties and be prepared with a solution before it’s even necessary.

Being able to anticipate a need and address it is basically a superpower in my book, although it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s a quiet skill, not flashy or noisy. But the truth is, people like Coral can make life a lot easier for the rest of us, obviating problems we didn’t even see coming like the superheroes they are. They just do it without capes.


Word Nerd Wednesday: Against the Currents

Happy Word Nerd Wednesday! Today’s word is especially pertinent to the world today. And it starts with a situation in Lena’s workplace.

Lena’s new manager seems like a smart guy but he’s misinformed on a few details. In a meeting, he declares information Lena knows for a fact to be false, crediting one employee with a brilliant new idea when it was actually the work of one of Lena’s team members. Unwilling to let the misinformation stand, Lena speaks up to set the record straight, giving credit to the correct coworker and going against what her new manager is saying.

“Against the say” = gainsay (gain-SAY), meaning to contradict, oppose, or deny. In our story, Lena gainsays her manager regarding the true originator of the new idea. In essence, she speaks truth to power. It’s not an easy thing, speaking up against one person, much less an entire group. It requires an unequivocal certainty of what is true and the determination that speaking up is absolutely necessary. Sometimes such actions come at a significant personal cost.

So is it worth it, to gainsay those spreading misinformation? Lena’s coworker certainly appreciates it. Those who earnestly seek truth instead of bandwagons will always appreciate the gainsayers, those who go against strong currents to illuminate other perspectives. It doesn’t mean those who speak up to contradict information are always right.┬áBut the only way a society can grow and evolve is to allow those with opposing viewpoints to be heard.

It’s why free speech is so vital. History has shown us that silencing those who disagree is a first step toward a disturbing future. It’s important that anyone, even you, has the ability to gainsay authority. Use your power wisely.