Metro-East Living

What does ‘reaching out’ mean? Words change, but politeness should always remain

Dianne Isbell
Dianne Isbell

Q. Am I behind the times (obviously I guess I am), but what is with this latest phrase of “reach out” as in, “I’m reaching out to you...” or “Can I reach out to you to ask...” or “Would you reach out to so and so to find out?.” Is the old phraseology of “Would you; could you; I’d like to ask you, etc.” no longer appropriate or been taken out of our grammar books?

A. Interesting that you, too, have noticed this apparent new “lingo” as one might refer to it. I honestly do not have a clue as to why this phrase has become so popular; maybe it is an invention of the millennial generation. Whether it is or isn’t, it’s not grammatically incorrect, just different and one’s choice in using it.

I just keep my ears perked for the next new phrases so that I can quickly decipher what is being said to me and not have this wide-eyed look on my face which might show my momentary incomprehension. Gosh, we might even find ourselves saying, “I am so glad you reached out to me,” in lieu of “Thank you for asking me.”

The bottom line is: even though it is different, if we understand what is being said, we are, and it’s OK.

Q. One of my girlfriends asked me to go with her to a movie. Date and time were set and she was supposed to pick me up at my house, we go to dinner and then we go to the movie. She didn’t show. I called her after waiting 15 minutes; then after 20 minutes. I was really worried about her. Two hours later she calls me and tells me she saw that I called and what did I want? She stuttered around and finally said she had gotten “hung up” and I’ll talk to you later. No call the next day, but another girlfriend told me she heard she had gone out after work with some of the office staff and was in heavy conversation with some guy.

When I confronted her about it when I ran into her at the grocery store,she just fluffed it off by saying, “You shouldn’t be upset; it’s that old rule about if you get a second offer from a guy, we girls understand who takes priority.” I don’t know that rule and even if I did, I wouldn’t condone it. I think what she did was rude and inconsiderate and I think she owes me a big apology, correct?

A. She definitely owes you an apology and she should have immediately apologized to you when she called you the night of her “no-show”. Furthermore, her “no-show” was totally inexcusable. Whether you get one or not, I suggest you remove her from your “going out to dinner and movie” list.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Dianne Isbell at Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427,120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to

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