September 2011  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Word Pair of the Month: comprehensible, comprehensive

The trick to using these words correctly is in the suffixes: -ible and -ive. The suffix -ible means “capable of,” so the definition of comprehensible is “able to be comprehended or understood.” On the other hand, the suffix -ive refers to a quality. So comprehensive suggests the quality of something all-inclusive and means “covering a broad range.”

You might remember the two words with this sentence: “The auto policy explained its comprehensive coverage in a clear, comprehensible way.”

September Writers' Forum Question

It used to be a nine-to-five world, but the times they are a-changing. Does your office employ creative work time? We'd love to know what creative scheduling you've used. Please share with us what works and what doesn't work for your business.

Marianne Shaeffer of Portland, Oregon, loves her work schedule, which is more a shared job than flextime:

I teach fourth grade in a private school, and after I had my baby, I worried about being away from her all day. Lucky for me, another teacher in my school was pregnant at the same time and had the same worries. We both gave birth during the summer, and our principal, with the wisdom of Solomon, came up with a great solution. Now my colleague and I share a class, with me teaching mornings and her afternoons. We went one better by becoming each other's baby care, too, so I drop my Chloe off with my colleague on my way to school, and I pick up both babies at lunchtime on my way home as she is heading out. Then she picks up her Emma after school. It works great, too, in that we can serve as each other's subs if necessary, and the students - and babies - have the continuity of someone they know. The girls, now two, are growing up like sisters, and it's a win-win for all. I know this might not be the right solution for someone who needs a full-time paycheck, but it works for us.

Paul Belmont of Cincinnati wasn't as lucky with flextime:

I'm an office manager for a smallish marketing company, and when the idea of flextime came up, we considered it but had to pass. We are very collaborative and often have important staff meetings called at the last minute, and it would just be too difficult to include those not there. For example, we couldn't expect someone who is on their own time to be available for a phone conference on such short notice. Nice concept, just not for us.

Verne James of Detroit likes the way his office handles flextime:

We have a core period each day from 11 to 3, during which everyone has to be there. Half of our staff works earlier, coming in at 6:30 a.m. and working until 3, while the other half comes in at 11 and leaves at 7:30 p.m. It's great, as all group meetings are set for when everyone is there, and people get to choose their shifts. I'm a morning person, and I love getting home early. Since my wife works a standard day and starts later, she gets the kids off to school, and I am there when they come home, so I can run them to all their activities. Works great.

Alli Unger of New York likes the idea of more flexibility but questions its timing:

I would be hesitant about asking my boss for flextime right now. After all, she could certainly find a dozen people willing to take my job and work whatever hours were required without question. It's a great idea, but I'd have to be really sure of its reception before bringing it up to my boss!

But Raj Patel of Los Angeles suggests that a company offering flexible scheduling would reap a lot more than it sowed:

My company understands that sometimes people need help dealing with life's crises, and they have been great about creative work time. So if Kathy's kids are sick, she works from home, thanks to the wonders of technology. If Greg has to take his mom to her physical therapy three days a week, he makes up the time on weekends or evenings, or comes in early the next day. We are lucky in that we don't punch a clock but are trusted to fulfill our work obligations. That trust is what makes us want to give a little extra as well. We may even put in more hours sometimes, just to give back to a company that values us. I don't make the kind of money I might somewhere else, but knowing that my time is flexible will keep me here, doing my best work.

A Final Thought

When you sell your home, your realtor does a search for similar properties so you can check out your competition. The same process is critical in a business. Check your competitors' Web sites and advertisements to see what they are doing that you are not. On the plus side, you may discover that you are doing plenty of right, even innovative things in your business. And that's got to be good for morale!

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