Skip to content

When “Rebooting” Means Grabbing the Galoshes

I accompanied my 89-year-old father to the hearing aid center yesterday. He had just gotten hearing aids and needed instruction on how to use them.

The doctor, around age 50, told my father that a tiny button on his new hearing aid would "reboot" it. My father looked at the doctor, dumbfounded. Was he hearing incorrectly? "Reboot" a hearing aid?

My father is of the age and experience that "rebooting" means putting on your galoshes, or boots, again.

When I explained that my father did not use a computer, the doctor smiled and tried again. He told my father that the tiny hearing aid button would reset the hearing aid back to its original settings. That made perfect sense to all of us.  

Know your audience!

Syntax Training

Posted by Avatar photo
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

6 comments on “When “Rebooting” Means Grabbing the Galoshes”

  • I try to figure out how any statement can be misinterpreted – usually by analyzing the literal meaning(s) of the words. For me, this is moderately entertaining (the fact that it sometimes annoys others is merely a side benefit). Such analysis does, however, reduce communications errors. Here are some tips for honing skills in this area (I’m sure others will follow):
    – Learn (or at least get some exposure to) another language. This will build empathy for those that don’t share your life experiences or your native language. You will become more aware of words and phrases that are sometimes misinterpreted.
    – Host an exchange student. We’ve hosted about twenty of them and we quickly discover everyday terms that trip them up. (I’m not going to recommend international adoption for everybody, but our two Ethiopian sons remind me to think about what I say.)
    – Continue to read this blog. Spending a few minutes thinking about communications a couple times a week helps keep us sharp.
    Thank you, Lynn, for this resource. I hope your father gets good use from his hearing aids for a long time.

  • thanks Lynn. i’ve found your blog recently and enjoy reading it so much.

    English is not my mother tongue and i am always confused about the using of “the”. May i ask you a question, you wrote: “He had just gotten hearing aids and needed instruction on how to use them.” Why don’t you put “the” in front of “hearing aids”?

    pls allow me to ask one more question- you wrote”The doctor, around age 50, told my father … “. Sometimes i see “aged 50”, so when should i use age but not “aged”?

    I will be grateful for any help you can provide. 🙂

  • Hi, Randy. I appreciate your excellent, practical suggestions and commentary. Thank you for sharing!

    Also, thank you for the kind words about this blog and your good wishes for my father.


  • Hi, Carmen. I am away from my reference books this week, so I will have to delay my response to your questions. I want to consult my references to be sure I give you correct, complete answers.


Comments are closed.