doubleshot media

for a strong, fast pick-me-up

Do you and your work colleagues all know the difference between discreet and discrete? Phil Dunphy-style fun learning can help

Many business professionals  do not  know how to spell or how to tell the difference between sound-alike words.

In the past, senior executives were protected by assistants who “fixed up” their mistakes. Now most professionals do their own writing (at least in e-mails). Many professionals have been able to “cover up” their deficiencies – but now their credibilty-eroding mistakes are exposed for all to see.

I see it all the time in boardrooms around country – especially in Power-Point presentations. Sometimes it’s because professionals are too busy – other times they just don’t know the difference between confusable words – complimentary and complementary, affect and effect, principle and principal.

And spell check will NOT pick up the difference between words like Discreet and Discrete.

But fear not…

DiscrEET 1-1 coaching is available in a friendly and memorable style.

This article was re-purposed from Dad-focussed post about Modern Family – and  it CAN ALSO  help professionals improve writing deficiencies they have been covering up.

This post can also help your IT department install printers.


How the Phil Dunphy style can help professionals remember how to spell correctly and write well.


Here’s why Phil Dunphy’s way of teaching others is brilliant and effective – and how you can benefit from his style!

Even if you don’t like the “cool dad” Phil Dunphy character from Modern Family – you can learn from his effective and memorable simplicity.

I know Phil is a “fictional character”  and I believe he is a brilliantly written character with a solid foundation of truth about how certain male minds work.


What inspired this post?

I’ve been helping my mother-in-law set up a printer and it reminded me of how Phil explains things in a “childlike” way. His “simple  song-rhyme memory device” works to help HIM remember – but it annoys the Pritchetts – Father-in-law Jay and wife Claire.

Phil’s simple rhyme is:

“The computer and the printer must  talk, talk talk  –   Command P makes the picture  walk, walk, walk!”

Here is a link to a youtube clip about Phil’s printer song:

What YOU can learn from this:

What made me laugh is that I use the same words and a similar style in my corporate training and in teaching my 8-year-old son Orlando.

In my “serious and grown-up”  role as a Corporate trainer and consultant, I’m often called in to help highly successful senior executives with “private” sessions to help improve certain areas.

For example, I work with very talented people who have the “gift of the gab”. They have excelled in certain areas and have managed to “cover up” other challenges – such as spelling.

In the past senior people would often have assistants to act as “buffers” to correct spelling and fix up the executive writing. However, now many executives need to write e-mails (without the assistant filter) and many execs are self-conscious about their spelling.

I’ll often help execs improve their spelling and one of the simple memory devices (that I remember from school) is

“When two vowels go walking – the first one does the talking

This does not apply in all vowel combinations – but it does in these examples:



O and A – make the sound of the first letter – the name of the first letter – the long O.

The first vowel does the “talking”. The A helps the O make the O sound but you don’t pronounce the A!

When E and A go walking the E does the talking


“When two vowels go walking – the first one does the talking

You see  why I chuckled at the similarity to:

The computer and the printer must  talk, talk talk  –   Command P makes the picture  walk, walk, walk!”

Also, do YOU know the difference between DISCRETE and  DISCREET?

I also help execs remember (visually) how to spell certain words that sound the same but have different meanings.

For example: DISCRETE and DISCREET.

Once again, I use a simple and highly effective “child-like” memory device that has helped me remember and also helps these senior execs.

The technique:

Look at the EEs

In discrEtE – the Es are divided and separated  – as into two DISCRETE  categories.

In discrEEt – the 2 Es are getting together and whispering to each other – they are being DISCREET.

Let me assure you – even if you are shaking your head (Jay-style) at this child-like simplicity – this technique WORKS! It’s visual – it’s memorable!

I hope some of you pass on this effective memory device  to your work colleagues or to your kids.

Speaking of kids, I used a very similar Phil-rhyme to teach my son a valuable lesson a “man” must learn – how to use a screw diver and spanner.

We were making a model car and I taught him how to use a screw driver to loosen and tighten screws.

Son, remember: “Turn to the Left to Loosen.


And… to the right, right, right – makes it tight, tight, tight!”

That’s why I laughed – the simple song is very similar to:

Command P made the picture  walk,walk, walk!

My son loves Phil from Modern Family too – and he will always remember my Phil-style instructional song.

Plus – the best thing – he thinks I’m a cool dad!

I am a serious lawyer by training – and if you still do not accept my argument that Phil’s teaching style can be very effective – we may have to settle this IN COURT – the FOOD COURT! (another great Phil line!)

So who is writing this?

Hi, I’m Tony Biancotti  – a lawyer turned journalist turned communication trainer and consultant.

I’m a massive fan of Modern Family (as you can probably tell) and one of my strengths (I’m told) is being a “COOL DAD” and even a “COOL CORPORATE CONSULTANT”. Senior and serious execs tell me this fun style does work for them.

If  you want to learn important business communication lessons – in a fun and memorable way – I can help.

If you are more like non-nonsense Jay Prichett and don’t like the Phil style – I can do “straight and serious” too if that’s what you prefer.

I live in Brisbane, Australia and you can contact me on

If you enjoyed this Phil-inspired post – here’s another one about a “crunchy surprise”.



2 comments on “Do you and your work colleagues all know the difference between discreet and discrete? Phil Dunphy-style fun learning can help

  1. Pingback: A helpful resource to help you choose the right words: adverse/averse and many more | Choose the Right Words

  2. Pingback: A helpful resource to avoid word confusion: suppository and repository | Choose the Right Words

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: