Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Please do the needful.

I have been working with an Indian project manager recently. He emails me a few times a week with an issue that requires action of some sort. After a brief explanation, he closes his email with "Pl. do the needful." I am absolutely enchanted by the phrase. I find myself muttering it regularly as a kind of mantra.

When confronted with a long to do list, I skim it and say, "Please do the needful." I say it when faced with a ringing phone, an urgent email, and a coworker standing next to my desk. And most of all, I say it over and over again in the evening when I'm trying to take care of two children, a husband, a cat, a household, and myself. My trouble, it seems, is figuring out what the needful is without a handy dandy project manager. I think I might need a project manager for my life.


Mary Witzl said...

You're right: that's a good phrase -- far more interesting than 'Do the necessary,' which sounds a little too close to something physiological.

I correspond with an Indian friend that I've known for decades. Her English is so good that I wouldn't dare compliment it. She writes as well or better than almost all of my native English-speaking friends.

Kelly said...

It is a good mantra. I would have trouble with that at home too-- too many needful things. Project manager sounds like a good idea.

Katie Alender said...

I have phrases like that, too. Whenever I'm really stressed, I find myself reciting the serenity prayer over and over and over again (usually in the shower!).

I should try one for productivity. I'm such an awful procrastinator! "Do the needful" is gentler than "Do it now!"

Christy said...

Mary - I always thought many Indians were native English speakers. Maybe that's a rash assumption on my part. I should check that out maybe.

Kelly - Maybe that would be a good 2nd career for someone. I should prompt Laura maybe. She'd be good at that. lol

Why on earth are you stressed in the shower, Katie???

Mary Witzl said...

I assumed the same thing. One day I said something to my friend about fellow native speakers of English, and she looked at me quizzically and said, "But I only started learning English when I was eleven!" That just floored me. She understands Tamil, speaks, reads and writes Hindi, and can handle conversations in Japanese. And yet she often refers to herself as linguistically untalented... Sigh.

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