my team is flipping out over a lunch, correcting coworkers who use the wrong words, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. My team is flipping out and thinks a colleague didn’t deserve to attend a thank-you lunch

My workplace holds an annual conference/event for all of the employees (250+ people). There is a committee in charge of planning and all the logistics. A few people who were on the committee had retired or left for jobs at other places, and the committee was a bit short-staffed. One of the employees in my division, “Meghan,” was asked to join and she accepted (being on the committee is completely voluntary).

Meghan was only on the committee for one month before the event. Everyone else had been on the committee for a full 12 months before the event. The event was a success. Everyone enjoyed it and the directors and members of the C-suite were especially impressed. The CEO held a lunch for the committee to thank them and celebrate the success at a very exclusive restaurant (all paid for by the company).

Meghan went to each of the committee members individually and said that if they weren’t comfortable with her attending the lunch because she was only on the committee for one month prior, she would understand. She was clear she didn’t want to seem like she was stealing the glory from all the work they did before her. Every member individually confirmed it was fine for her to attend. They also confirmed it again at the debriefing meeting they had after the event.

However, after the meeting the committee members (for reasons unknown) are shunning and talking badly of Meghan. They think she should have declined the lunch anyway. The manager of our division is included in this. He has called Meghan delusional for not realizing she “overstepped” after he himself told her to attend. She deferred praise at the lunch because she was only on the committee for a month. There are emails where people told her to come. The committee members saying all kinds of nasty things about her. The majority of the members work in my division. I’m not a manager or supervisor, I’m a lead so I have no authority to tell people to stop. They all think she should have known they were being polite when they told her to go.

It has gotten really bad here. The snipping and vitriol is out of control. I don’t know what to do or where to go since my manager is in on it and he leads our division. Meghan is confused and upset by all this negativity directed at her.

You work with really petty people, and your manager in particular sucks. Even if Meghan hadn’t asked people if she could attend, it would be ridiculous for them to be sniping at her like this — she was on the committee, and it’s reasonable that she attended. And it’s not like she’s taking anything away from them by being there — it’s a lunch, not a pile of money that she’s grabbing an unfair share of. And then throw in that she asked them if it would be appropriate to attend (thus displaying some sensitivity to her shorter tenure) and they all told her yes, and they’re still sniping at her? Over a lunch? They’re being remarkably small-minded and unpleasant.

But it doesn’t sound like you’re in a position to do a lot here since your manager is part of the problem. You can tell your manager and others that you think the reaction to Meghan is unwarranted and point out that she specifically checked with people before attending (and point out that it’s just a lunch — she didn’t steal part of their Grammy or something), and you can push back when you hear people say unkind things, and you can make a point of being kind and supportive to Meghan … and you can take note that you work with people with terrible judgment, and factor that into future decisions. But I think your question is about how to stop this, and it doesn’t sound like you have the power to do that.


2. Is it rude to shush someone?

Is it generally considered rude or disrespectful to “shhhhh” someone? Context is that there is a small break room pretty close to patient care areas. Anytime lunchtime talk or other loud conversations can be heard outside the door, the manager from that department comes in and shhhh’s everyone — as in literally “shhhh-shing” us.

One of my coworker gets triggered and low-key pissed off every time. I don’t see the big deal personally because sometimes we do get rather loud when catching up at work. But because its always the same manager/person doing the shhhh-shing, my coworker thinks she is being personally targeted and disrespected regardless of who else is in the kitchen at the time.

“Can you please keep it down in here?” isn’t rude. Literally shushing you is … well, kind of scoldy and unnecessary when she could use actual words. But since it sounds like this happens a lot, she may just be frustrated that she has to keep asking you to be quiet over and over again.

Your coworker who’s getting pissed off about it is being unreasonable. The manager is on solid ground in asking you to stop letting noise carry to patient care areas, and the fact that she’s had to ask repeatedly isn’t good. You might try pointing out to your coworker that you’re risking losing access to the break room altogether if the noise problems continue, and she’s not doing any of you any favors with her stance.


3. My interviewer asked me what I admired most and least about my parents

I had two phone interviews this week with the same company, and things are heading in an exciting direction! I thoroughly prepared, and felt comfortable with all of the questions asked and with all of my answers … except for one question. It was a two-parter during the interview with HR: (1) “Tell me the trait you most admire about your parents.” (Ummmm – why? But okay, I tied this in to what we had been talking about.) (2) “And what about least?” That was actually what she said. I asked her to rephrase – she had to think about it, and said, “What traits about your parents do you like the least?”

In my mind, I laughed and thought: well, definitely that they are dead. I happen to HATE that about them. But I BS’d an answer, and we moved on.

I can think of 50 reasons why you shouldn’t ask someone you are talking to for the first time / you don’t know about their parents! Have you ever heard of such questions for an interview? What could the reason be for asking? The interviewer had no way of knowing of my relatively recent loss. I love my parents more than anything. But what if they had just passed and I reacted very emotionally to this question? What if I never knew my parents? What if my parents abused me? What if I had answered the way I truly feel: I hate that they are dead? What if, what if, WHAT IF?

I have posed this to several friends, and everyone thinks this is a very strange line of questioning – mostly because what I have been through, but also for all of the possible what-if’s you could imagine. The interviewer is in a position where she’s been interviewing people for a long time. I just can’t imagine this being a standard question she uses each time she interviews someone.

If the company wants to proceed with the application process, should I bring this up with someone? If I end up being offered the position and accepting, is this something I can talk to the interviewer about once I have hit the ground running? The question will have no impact on my decision to accept an offer should we get to that point – the more I heard about the job, the more I really see myself being the perfect fit.

Yeah, this is just bad interviewing. It’s overly personal and invasive and there’s no job-related reason for asking it. She probably heard or decided at some point that this is a brilliant way to learn about your values, but there are far more effective ways of doing that, and ones that won’t turn off candidates.

I don’t think there’s any benefit to bringing it up at this stage, but if you’re offered and accept the job, you can definitely mention it after you’ve been there a bit, framing it as something that you found off-putting and that they should re-think asking.


4. Correcting coworkers when they use the wrong words

I’m seeking advice on how to correct coworkers when they misuse words. Whenever I notice this, it’s often in a group setting, and I don’t want to come across as obnoxious and rude if I speak up. Precision of language is very important to me, and I internally cringe whenever this happens. Plus, I think it can negatively impact a person’s professional persona, however subtly. Examples, from colleagues senior, peer-level, and junior to me, include: “treasury” instead of “tertiary,” “exuberant” instead of “exorbitant,” and “weary” instead of “wary” (this is a common one). One of the culprits is my direct report, but there are others beyond my purview. Help me help them!

It’s not really your place to address this except with your direct report. With her, you can certainly correct her language — although unless polished communication is a key part of her role, I’d let occasional mistakes go and just focus on the times when you hear the wrong word more than once (or if it’s a word she’s going to be using a lot in her work). Do it in private, and say something like: “A quick thing I noticed in that meeting earlier — you said exuberant a couple of times when I think you meant exorbitant. Exuberant means enthusiastic or abundant, so I wanted to flag it in case you’d confused the two words.”

With everyone else though, it’s not your place to correct people’s language (assuming it’s not in a written document you’re reviewing). If you were talking one-on-one, you could possibly do an on-the-spot “wait, do you mean exorbitant?” — but in a group setting, it’s not going to come across well. (Written documents that you’re reviewing are different; you can definitely flag it there.)


5. I don’t want to participate in my office’s weight loss competition

HR sent an email out this morning that they want each individual office to hold wellness competitions. Any office who partakes will get $150 in prizes to hand out to the winners. The challenges can be as mundane as 10k Steps a Day (whoever gets closest/goes over for the time period wins) up to The Biggest Loser (whoever loses the most weight wins).

There’s already an odd obsession with food here. If we all go out to eat, my choices are usually commented on by a few of the women here. (I can’t help it, a cup of soup is not going to be enough for me, I need at least a sandwich.) My office has done The Biggest Loser independently and it’s always A Big Thing if I don’t participate. Call me crazy, but I don’t exactly cherish the idea of having a weekly weigh-in with coworkers, especially when it’s pushed by my two male bosses. The first year we did it, we all had to sign up to cook healthy meals and then all eat together.

I know my office fairly well, so I know the odds of it being the more mundane activities are next to zero. Seeing as we do The Biggest Loser on our own twice a year, I’m pretty sure they’ll jump at the chance to do that one. Any advice on how to bow out as gracefully as possible?

“I’m not interested in competing over weight loss.” That’s it! But the trick probably isn’t in what initial wording you use, but in dealing with any pressure afterwards. You’ll just need to hold firm — “I’m really not interested,” “Please don’t keep asking me — this is not for me,” etc. And if your bosses get in on the pressure, which it sounds like they do, you may need to say something to them specifically like, “I’m really not interested in discussing my weight or diet at work, so please assume I’m sitting this stuff out.”

Any chance you’re up for pointing out — either to your bosses or to HR — that this kind of thing is out of place at work? You’d be doing the world a service if you pointed out that workplace weight loss competions are dangerous for people with eating disorders, overlook people who are trying to gain weight or maintain it rather than lose it, and can promote really unhealthy habits.


{ 445 comments… read them below }

  1. CatCat*

    Poor Meghan in #1. She stepped up to help a short-staffed committee and they were terrible to her :-(

    Was there ever any kind of update to that one?

    1. Artemesia*

      This is one of the weirdest letters ever on this site. It is a LUNCH — one of those stupid corporate lunches to thank people. Of course everyone on the committee should be included. Of course. I have to wonder if Meghan’s cringing around asking if she should go is what planted the idea that somehow she shouldn’t go. It is hard to imagine even the most dysfunctional office finding someone going to lunch a big deal. Perhaps she inadvertently framed it as an issue for them and it took off. Just Weird AF.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I wondered if she was asking everyone if she should attend because she’d picked up a vibe that she shouldn’t. A remark as simple as ”Oh, are you included with the long-term committee members?” could have started it all off. The fact that there is now all this carry-on suggests she was on to something. As you say, weird AF.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yeah, that was my thought as well. Meghan knows something’s weird in that group. I hope she’s left for greener pastures.

      2. Despachito*

        I hate the idea that she might somehow have brought it to herself by asking.

        What they did was incredibly shitty, I cannot imagine working with those people after that.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Right? Like she was somehow supposed to know that “You’re part of the team! Of course, please join the lunch” really meant “no, you have no business here and we’ll talk smack about you if you take us at our word.” These were some real Petty Betties.

      3. RIP Pillow Fort*

        OP mentioned at the end that people in their office expected Meghan to know they were only “being polite.”

        So they were telling her “yeah come to the lunch” and now it’s shocked Pikachu face when Meghan took them at face value like a normal person. There’s some serious messed up dynamics going on but I kind of get it. I have experienced this sort of passive aggressive, mean girl antics because I am on the spectrum. You tell me to come to something then I’m taking you at face value. I’ve had a few times where I find out later that they expected me to know they really didn’t want me there. Like I’m a mind reader.

        1. Antilles*

          That’s where I land too. The answer is very simple: She asked them if she should attend, they said yes.

          If you didn’t want her to attend, then you had your chance to say no.

          If you felt like it’d be super weird to say that…well maybe the fact that you can’t bring yourself to say it out loud should tell you something about how strange your request is.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            YES! This!! It sounds rude to say no, because it very much would be rude to say no. This is not a person who tried to scam a free lunch (eye-rolling that anyone should care about that anyway, but I digress). THEY LITERALLY ASKED HER TO BE PART OF THE COMMITTEE BECAUSE THEY NEEDED MORE HELP. She stepped up and did it, so OF COURSE she should be recognized too!!! I hate all of these people for their treatment of Meghan and I hope she is somewhere wonderful now where people aren’t petty, jealous, or backstabbing and where people say what they mean.

            1. metadata minion*

              And not to diminish the effort of having been doing the work all year, but there’s another type of hard work that comes from having to jump in and help at the last minute, when you probably don’t have the context for the other 11 months of work and have to play catch-up. That’s something that deserves to be recognized and thanked in its own right, especially if we’re talking about a @#$@$%ing lunch rather than a salary raise or something.

              1. Daisy-dog*

                Exactly! She was part of the event committee for the *last* month – the month where the even took place. It wasn’t like she was part of the committee for the first month and had to move off for a different commitment and was swooping in to take credit for just suggesting a few ideas 11 months ago.

            2. EPLawyer*

              OH MY YES. So she didn’t work for the other 11 months. But she DID step up and help. The day of a big event can have a TON of things to do to make sure it runs smoothly. So Meghan did help pull off the successful event.

              She acknowledged she didn’t do as much as others. But somehow SHE is the bad guy for … participating in the lunch celebrating the successful event.

              This office sucks and I hope both OP and Meghan moved on to greener SANER pastures.

          2. ferrina*

            Yeah. If I were LW, I’d have a very passive-aggressive conversation with my manager (the complainer):

            “Meghan did exactly what you said, and now you are upset at her for doing that. Just for my own reference, how should I know when I should take your words at face value, and when I should know that you don’t mean what you are saying? Wouldn’t want to get that mixed up!”
            (for the record: this is a terrible idea, don’t do it unless you are reeeeally good at politics or have literally no more foxes to give)

            1. Observer*



              This is mean and petty. But it’s also deeply dishonest. I hope the OP got out of there – I would never be able to trust that manager (or any of the others who Meghan asked) again.

          3. Artemesia*

            And I am not blaming her for this just trying to understand how it could have occurred and thus thought maybe her very request ‘framed’ this as a big deal given her short tenure. There are bees here; many many bees.

        2. Overit*

          I am not on the spectrum but I am from NYC. So I could not pick up the PA behavior/words prevalent where we lived in the midwest.
          It was a happy happy joy joy dance day when we moved away.

          1. perstreperous*

            I just held an exit interview with someone (in Southern England; I don’t know where they grew up, but it was almost certainly some distance away) where their most memorable line by far was “You have a problem with me? You speak to me directly”. They had no truck with proxies giving bad news, or indirect criticism.

            I was not previously aware of “ask” versus “guess” cultures (which looks like a US construct), but my goodness is it not a useful way of looking at that issue!

            1. Roy G. Biv*

              Midwest US native here, land of the passive aggressive comment. IMO the WORST part of guess culture is when someone guesses on behalf of another person, they rarely get it right. I thank my East coast coworkers for introducing me to ask culture. It is perfectly ok to very politely ask, and then respect the answer. And yes, it initially freaks out the locals, but they are getting used to it.

            2. inko*

              I grew up in southern England – yeah, I bet this person isn’t from round there! I love the framing of ask vs. guess, and it took me a while to get used to it but I’m now vastly more comfortable in the relatively ‘ask’ culture I live in now.

            3. Artemesia*

              Ask vs guess may be a US construct but it is not limited to the US. I have worked in cultures outside the US in Asia, the Middle East and Europe and there are lots of examples of ‘guess culture’ in action in all those places too.

              I did my career in the US south and I well remember a remark by a peer who was also from another area. (I grew up in the PNW). He said ‘you know it took me years to realize that when I was assuming that everyone at the party was agreeing with my comments, the fact was that they all thought I was soooo wrong I was evil.’ Saying ‘yes’ to mean ‘no’ is a very common thing in the South. Just as ‘bless his heart’ is not a friendly or compassionate remark.

              1. Clisby*

                The thing is, in the South “bless his heart” can be a friendly/compassionate remark. It all depends on the context.

            4. GreyjoyGardens*

              Guess Culture is awful. It only really works in very homogenous places where everyone knows everyone else well. Most workplaces are not that.

              I’m taking people at their word. If I’m invited to lunch (presuming I want to go) then I go. I think it’s way too much of a burden to put on someone to have to figure out whether an invitation is a real one or not.

              Poor Megan. I hope she got out of that Evil Bee Workplace.

          2. Me (I think)*

            I’m from Philly and have lived in the South for decades. It took me *forever* to understand that no one here says what they mean, and they don’t take direct comments well, especially any sort of negative ones.

            But bless their hearts.

          3. kiki*

            When guess culture “works,” it requires a significant amount of homogeneity and shared experiences. So, in my Grandparents’ small town in rural Minnesota, guess culture is prevalent and doesn’t cause too many issues because most people there have spent their whole lives together and had very similar cultures and upbringings. Guessing can work alright in that context. But, unsurprisingly, it breaks down when any amount of diversity is introduced. I think something people who thrive in a guess culture don’t understand– how would anyone who is different than the norm be able to guess this stuff? In fact, if you take them out of their specific guess culture, they struggle too. At a certain point, people HAVE to ask, there’s no way to guess. Not responding honestly when somebody does ask is NOT kind or more polite– it’s really cruel.

            1. Roy G. Biv*

              kiki – I am going to commit your reply here to memory. This probably the most coherent explanation of guess vs. ask I have ever seen.

            2. CdnAcct*

              Yes! This is all so true. From a purely objective standpoint either culture can work – but ‘guess’ really does require a strong base of shared understanding, which normally means homogeneity of some sort.

              And it can be fostered not only in regional/family cultures but any type of group – for example a bunch of accountants with the same designation who all worked in different but similar audit firms will share a lot of expectations around work and professionalism compared to people from a different group like doctors or theatre actors.

              ‘Guess’ culture can make things a lot smoother and quicker when it works, but ‘ask’ is necessary a lot, even if it’s more uncomfortable for those used to ‘guess’.

            3. GreyjoyGardens*

              Agreed! The only way Guess culture works is in that kind of homogenous and close-knit environment or culture – like a small town where most everyone is “from there” and so are their parents, etc.

              Most workplaces do not work like that. Cities definitely do not work like that. I think of Ask culture as healthier and more honest – and certainly the only way a workplace should be.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Jesus wept, this. If I ask you if I should (whatever) and you say yes, then why on god’s green earth would I not assume that you actually MEAN yes? Guess culture drives me absolutely batty.

        4. Sabina*

          Yes, yes, yes. I am neurodivergent and had a similar reaction. I’ve had one experience with this type of BS. I lived in a small rural community that relied on a lot of self help initiatives to keep basic services like water and power running. There was a community wide invitation to attend a work day to do some outdoor cleanup tasks. Like an idiot I went and half way through the event realized I was the only woman there. Well, every one in the town except me apparently knew that only men were supposed to attend these work parties. I was literally shunned for months over this violation of the unspoken rules.

        5. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

          They’re not even being polite, they’re being shitty and fake. These people sound insufferable.

      4. Rainy*

        I love it when newer people come to that stuff, because it’s such a nice chance to get to know them a little more casually and it’s also really nice to shake up the same old topics of conversation by introducing new people.

        I think this really was just a bunch of petty people being petty. I don’t think I would ever think of one of those recognition lunches as being a big deal.

    2. Sherm*

      Apparently no update, but if there was one, I bet it would be one of those updates that goes like “It turned out that my workplace had widespread toxicity that manifested itself in many ways.” I hope both Meghan’s and OP’s updates involved moving on to better things.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I admit the spelling of the name Meghan + the shitty shunning gave me royal family vibes in 2022.

        What a bunch of jackholes for her going around and asking, they all tell her to go, and then they diss the shit out of her afterwards, including management! I bet she quit that committee ASAP, followed by the job soon after.

        “They all should have known they were being polite and she should have taken the hint not to come.” Geez. I come from Guess Culture myself, but it doesn’t sound like they made that clear.

        1. TomatoSoup*

          It really does sound like some British royal family nonsense, doesn’t it? There’s guess culture and this is well beyond that.

          1. Artemesia*

            There doesn’t seem to be anything that ‘guess’ and subtle about the current royal kerfuffle. I mean if Meghan the OP had gone on TV to attack the corporation we would all understand why the boss was giving her the cold shoulder.

            1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

              I think the “guess” culture came beforehand when she and Harry were still in the UK and she couldn’t do anything right because of guess culture (and part of the guess culture seemed to be “guess what race you should be?”)

    3. Ginger HR*

      Where I’m based, that would count as straight up bullying.
      If that OP told me about it (I’m HR), then I’d have simply gone to the manager’s manager, or whoever had next level oversight of this committee, and told them that this was stuff I’d heard / picked up on, and it needed to stop. And suggested that maybe these committee members needed to rotate off and give someone else a go, to stop them getting so insufferably precious about it that they thought this was reasonable behaviour

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, my first thought was to wonder whether there was nyone more senior who OP could speak to to report this bullying .

        I hope things improved and Meghan moved on to an awesome new job elsewhere where her lack of telepathic powers wasn’t a problem

      2. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

        This x 1,000,000, Ginger HR!

        It’s especially troubling that the manager is joining in this…er, nonsense (a nice, printable word, but not the one I’m actually thinking! ;) Managers set the tone for their reports, and this manager is leading their team in this juvenile, spiteful behavior. That manager should be the first to shut down the rudeness – to tell the other committee members to shut up and knock it off NOW and to remind them that Meghan is a full member of their committee, whenever she joined it. This is a real failure of leadership! But perhaps it does explain why that manager’s reports feel free to act like this; that manager is setting the tone for the team.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          With the manager being in on this, I wonder if the unfortunate Megan is the group or team or office or etc. scapegoat. If so, she needs to get out ASAP. It’s like with kids who have to change schools (or graduate) in order to not be the pariah. Once people start think of you as the b*tch eating crackers, you have to burn your bridges and start fresh, because they are never going to NOT like you.

          And chances are it’s nothing Megan has done. For all we know, she stands out from the group in some way – different race/ethnicity, different religion, lifestyle, LGBTQ+, even appearance. There might be nothing she can change but to start over in a different workplace.

    4. Lilo*

      My experience is also that a LOT of work gets done in that last month. Yes a lot is prebooked but there are.also a lot of last minute fires. So she likely did do a lot of work.

      I kind of see this as a red flag about this workplace. Even if she hadn’t asked and her attendance was “wrong” it’s a lunch! Most people would have gotten over it within ten minutes.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh man, I cannot overemphasize enough how much I HATE this kind of thing–if I ask you a clear, yes or no question and you answer me, I am going to assume you are telling the truth. The whole Hell’s Guessing Game of What I Really Meant Was is immature at the very, very least.

      I remember a few years ago, I read a “getting ahead in business” type book where the writer went into a hotel. The check in clerk asked if he would like help with his luggage. He declined. Out loud, with his words.

      The guy went on to write that the hotel clerk taking him at his word was poor business practice and she should have INSISTED on having a bellhop assist him. I mean, what?? Why the hell would the clerk decided that a grown, voting adult who can communicate would say “no thank you” if he didn’t mean it? Who wants to be pestered by staff about what they “really” want??

      1. Skytext*

        I think I read that book! I don’t remember that anecdote, but I seem to remember a book where I just kept shaking my head like, “no, that isn’t how you treat people in service industries!”

  2. Aphrodite*

    OP #1:

    Wow, how painful that must have been. I would like to think that I been Meghan I would have cried a bucket of tears at home and then the next day, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, sought out the manager in full view of others, handed him a $50 bill and said, “Here is my payment for the lunch since I can see (and hear) my attendance is paining a lot of people.”

    But in reality I think I would have just kept crying.

    1. Lilo*

      Someone I work with uses “deluded” when he means “diluted” (he uses it on the chat function, I realize hearing the difference between those words is near impossible). I’ve bounced around whether I should let him know as we do write back and forth with the public and he could be making that error publicly.

        1. Lilo*

          I can’t explain the exact context without basically identifying my precise job, but it’s similar to that. Basically something having less strength because of its placement within the field.

          1. kitryan*

            Like, ‘Our reach in the market is deluded because of trademark infringement’ – sounds like it’s that sort of thing. That would indeed bug the crap out of me.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Depends on your accent, they sound very different when I say them! I like the image of deluded fruit juice though. Diluted behaviour. Sometimes it would be nice if the deluded behaviour was diluted.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yeah they sound different when I say them as well. It’s funny how we hear things differently. I had a colleague who couldn’t hear the difference between Don and Dawn which I hear as very different vowel sounds. The problem was she didn’t believe the rest of us in the team could hear a difference and insisted we were making it up!

          1. Jj*

            My first job was in a different region of the US and I have what I’ve come to call a “lazy” accent. I constantly ran into trouble with Aaron/Erin, marry/merry/Mary, and Carrie/Kerri/carry. I distinctly remember my first grade teacher telling us that Aaron and Erin are pronounced the same, but my coworkers did not share that opinion. I still can’t hear the difference unless it’s really exaggerated.

            1. EvilQueenRegina*

              The Aaron and Erin one is one I’ve only really been aware of from this site – I’m in the UK and they’re not pronounced quite the same here.

              1. UKDancer*

                Definitely, also from the UK and I hear them as different. I hadn’t realised other people didn’t hear a difference until I read about it on this website.

                1. Michelle Smith*

                  Yup, I’m American and have pronounced them the same way/heard them pronounced exactly the same my entire life. Today I learned it’s different for others!

              2. FashionablyEvil*

                It’s regional within the US–I’m from the northeast and I will swear until my dying breath that merry/marry/Mary, Erin/Aaron, Dawn/Don, are all pronounced differently, but my midwestern colleagues would similarly insist they’re the same. (But I would pronounce Carrie and carry the same way; Kerri would be different.)

              3. Zorak*

                I’m from the US and they’re definitely pronounced exactly the same at least here; maybe sliiightly more “i” on Erin than the schwa sound for “on”, but barely perceptible.

                Once or twice I’ve heard someone pronounce them noticeably differently, and it always comes across as though they’ve never encountered those names before and are sight-reading them

            2. Elassandra*

              “I distinctly remember my first grade teacher telling us that Aaron and Erin are pronounced the same, but my coworkers did not share that opinion. ”

              What… what? How else are you supposed to pronounce either of those names if not “Air-in”? Like do people actually go by “A-a-ron” like in Key and Peele? My mind is blown right now.

              1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                In my accent, there’s a very slight difference. Erin is “Air-in” but the first syllable of Aaron is like a cross between air and ow. Very, very small difference, not sure if I would always catch it when said.

                1. Thistle*

                  Eek, I’d say Ah-Ron and Eh-rin. The different final vowel makes a difference even if the first vowel(s) get mangled

              2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

                Where I’m from we pronounce them differently, it’s Ar-ron and Eh-rin. I didn’t know that anyone pronounced them the same until the first time I watched Mean Girls.

              3. This Old House*

                It’s almost impossible to give examples, because if you pronounce the first vowels of Aaron and Erin the same way, you probably also pronounce those vowels the same everywhere else they are used. For me, Aaron is “ah” as in “apple” or “cat,” while Erin is “eh” as in “educate” or “Beth.”

              4. WantonSeedStitch*

                In my accent, the first syllable of “Aaron” is pronounced like the “a” in “apple.” The “E” in “Erin” is pronounced like the “e” in “pet.” Neither sounds like “air.” (I’m from Rhode Island, my mom’s from Long Island, so I have some of that influence.)

              5. Adds*

                My daughter’s boyfriend’s name is Aaron. My husband’s ex-wife’s name is Erin. There has been some occasional confusion as to which person we are talking about because we’re lazy speakers and the names are pretty much pronounced the same (also there is A Lot of background/water/mechanical/white noise in our house that sometimes makes quiet or subtle differences hard to hear).

                So they usually get a modifier: Aaron the boyfriend or Erin the ex. Or, like in our conversation last night, “spell it.” Makes for some interesting moments.

            3. Loredena*

              Those all sound the same to me! And the letters weary/wary example is surprisingly close. Enough I’m not sure I’d pick up on it in casual conversation. I don’t know what my accent is, though likely predominantly Buffalo region as I lived there until I was ten.

            4. Clisby*

              I don’t know the difference in pronunciation between Carrie and carry, but the other examples definitely don’t sound alike to me. (US South.) Do some people pronounce either “Carrie” or “carry” like “Carey”?

          2. EvilQueenRegina*

            That reminds me of a time when I was at university, mentioned my home town to an American guy who asked if I knew someone called “Don” who was from the same home town. I didn’t know a Don, but did know a Dawn from the year above me – it took me a while to click that that might have been who he meant as they’re normally very different to me as well.

          3. ecnaseener*

            Ah, that’s the cot-caught merger! It really is hard to perceive the difference if you have the merger – I still have to check Wikipedia to remind myself which words get which vowel in unmerged accents.

          4. Random Bystander*

            That or it may be that people really are saying the words differently (regional accents). I know I ran across one quiz (US based) which could determine your accent/region of the country and all the questions were whether words sounded the same or different (eg Mary, marry, merry–with options for all three sound the same, all three sound different from each other, Mary & marry sound the same but merry sounds different). Or when I was teaching my children and the lesson plan had “our” and “hour” as supposed to sound the same, and I’m thinking “which pronunciation am I supposed to use?” because to me, they are very different (our is one syllable; hour is two).

            But on the wrong word thing, one that stood out to me was when we were in the office and had department meetings once a month, and the written agenda always had this motto at the top “let the first touch be affective” … I just quietly corrected it on my own copy of the agenda.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              I’m originally from the Southern US. I wonder if that’s why both of those words are two syllable to me. The “h” is silent, so I say both words “ow + urr.” How do you say them?

              1. As Per Elaine*

                Not Random, but I say “our” more like “are” than “hour” (ow-urr). “Our” pronounced “ow-urr” wouldn’t throw me, and I may even say it that way sometimes, but something more like “are” is my default.

              2. Random Bystander*

                Like As Per Elaine, “our” is more like “are” while “hour” is ow-urr (the first syllable being like what you say if you slightly hurt yourself, like stubbing your toe).

                And on the Mary/marry/merry–I’m in the “Mary and marry sound the same, but merry is different” grouping.

                1. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

                  The guys who play Merry and Pippin in LoTR did an interview and were very adamant that (most) Americans pronounce Merry wrong (because we pronounce it the same as Mary). He kept repeating the “correct” pronunciation and comparing it to the “wrong” pronunciation, and I could never tell the difference.

                  A co-worker, who grew up in Texas and worked with me in the Midwest, said things like “hill,” “heel”, and “hell” all the same (or nearly the same) and couldn’t hear the difference when we told her.

                  Accents are weird. (In a good way.)

          5. As Per Elaine*

            So, funny story, it took me YEARS to figure out that the carol line “don we now our gay apparel” was not, in fact, “dawn, we now are gay a-peril,” which, sure, was a little weird, but old-timey song lyrics are weird sometimes.

            (I do pronounce them differently, but not that differently, and probably was unfamiliar with that meaning of “don” when I was four or five or whatever.)

      2. CLC*

        My default is that if know what someone is trying to say, I do not correct them (expect, as Allison points out, when editing documents because that’s the point).

    2. The King is a Fink!*

      My biggest grammar peeve has been coming across “I seen” instead of “I saw” in coworkers’ notes.

      1. Everdene*

        In my area “I seen” is correct for local dialect, but I did not grow up here. It pains my ears but I pick my battles on when to correct it.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Are the people saying this trying to speak in Standard English? It seems more likely that they are using the local dialect, in which case “correcting” them would in fact be a miscorrection.

        2. Bagpuss*

          I remember coming across it when reading ‘Anne of Green Gables’ – I can’t remember the context but think it may have been Diana either using it, or worrying that she would, in front of someone she wanted to impress (possibly the famous writerwho visited?)

          I live in Somerset and here, you get people saying ‘Where’s it to?’ (‘where is it?’) – it’s correct for the local dialect but alwasy slightly bugs me (We moved here when I was young enough that I learned to speak Somerset to fit it, but old enough that it’s not my native tongue!)

          1. smol might*

            I’ve heard similar in Wales too – my favourite for asking directions is ‘where to’s that?’

      2. PhyllisB*

        Ugh!! I hate “I seen!!” Living in the South I hear that a lot. I tried to teach my children to use proper grammar because as Jeff Foxworthy always says, people hear these Southern accents and automatically deduct 20 IQ points.

      3. lilsheba*

        OMG this is one of my pet peeves too, and I either see it written as seen or hear people say seen when it should be SAW!!!!! Drives me batty!!! You sound like a hillbilly!

        1. Becca*

          I seen is correct in African American vernacular English (as well as other dialects) and it is problematic to consider those who use it a lesser class.

      4. marvin*

        This is a pretty common regional and cultural usage, though. There may be some contexts where it’s less appropriate (although I’d argue that’s mostly because of bias) but it’s not incorrect, just different. I happen to really enjoy language variation like this.

        1. Kit*

          Ooh, yes, one might have a cache of cachet but the conflation is always confusing to me. Unless you’re a Louisiana native, there is no acute accent involved.

    3. Zombeyonce*

      My well-educated FIL says “supposably” instead of “supposedly” all the time and it drives me up the wall. But I never correct him because what’s the point?

        1. allathian*

          My pet peeves in this, in English, are “nuclear” as “nuculer” and “cavalry” as “calvary”. Both of these are features of some Southern accents/dialects, but they drive me up a wall. It’s weird, because in general I like the sound of Southern accents.

          A really funny one is pronouncing “power-mower” as “paramour”…

          1. Myrin*

            OMG that “paramour” one is amazing (although I can’t say I’ve ever had the need to talk about a power-mower, so I’ve yet to encounter this possibility IRL).

          2. SarahKay*

            My sister does nuculer instead of nuclear and it drives me up the wall. But she’s been doing it for at least 30 years now, and after ten-odd years of expressing my irritation out loud to her I’ve now just abandoned the argument.

            1. lilsheba*

              My late sister used to pronounce wash as “warsh” and I never understood why. We grew up with the same mother, in the same area, so wtf?

              1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                Are you from the Pittsburgh area? That’s a common pronunciation there.

                (Says the girl from the Philly area who says “wooder” for water.)

          3. Pennyworth*

            My language mega-peeve is people using the word year before anniversary. Like birthdays, anniversaries occur annually so all that is required is the ordinal number. We don’t have an 18 year birthday, we have 18th birthdays, 22nd anniversaries etc. And don’t get me started on the ”x month anniversary” phenomenon.

            1. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

              When my husband and I were dating, we “celebrated” (used as an excuse to buy junk food or something) things like our 6-month-iversary.

          4. lilsheba*

            Add to that people who pronounce jewelry as “joolery” and admittedly this is less common but I run into it a lot, people who pronounce Ouija as “wee-jee”. It’s pronounced wee-JA.

          5. Artemesia*

            Once went to Cracker Barrel with the family. The hostess directed us to sit on the ‘far side’ — I was confused there were lots of places that could be. She repeated slowly ‘the table on the far side.’ Again — this way? that way? the other way? huh? It took us a very long time to figure out she meant the table by the ‘fire side’.

            1. Butterfly Counter*

              When my family moved to Texas, I was put in the front row in a new science class. The teacher was handing out papers and handed me a stack and said, “Take a pape passit backerds.”

              It took me asking for clarification twice before she said, “Take one of th’ PAYpers n’ pass it b’HIND djew.”

      1. Nonny-nonny-non*

        I had a minor crush on a manager a couple of years back which I was doing my best to ignore.
        Then I heard him say “supposably” and (to my delight) the crush vanished then-and-there.
        So there are some definite benefits to being picky about language ;-)

      2. Robin*

        Supposably, drownded, acrosst – these are all apparently dialect because 1) my partner’s whole family does it and 2) other people do it too! I think it is a subset of the Midwest.

        I always notice and it always makes me laugh a bit on the inside but other than asking him if he noticed that he says these differently, I let it go. Dialect policing is not a priority.

      3. Filosofickle*

        Just today I watched an IG reel by a linguist person arguing that supposably is no less correct than supposedly! I’m truly working to let go of my grammar / language snobbery and it’s an uphill battle. But I see how biased so many of my judgments are and they really aren’t serving me (or anyone else)

    4. Everdene*

      A former colleague used to say “cohesive” instead or “coersive”. As we were supporting those who were/had experienced coercive control as part of abuse I had to tell her.

      1. allathian*

        When I was in college, an exchange student said “irreverent” rather than “irrelevant” variables when he presented his regression analysis report. It was hilarious, and also weird, because he had written it correctly and didn’t have a speech impediment. Fortunately he was able to see the humor in the situation. But it just goes to show how significant humor can be for remembering things, because I’ve forgotten everything about that class I took nearly 30 years ago, including my own paper, but I remember this basically irrelevant (or should that be irreverent?) detail because it appealed to my sense of wordplay.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      I work with someone who pronounces eligible as illegible. In the past, part of her job involved processing applications for early years nursery funding, and she told so many people they were illegible for funding that our then-manager told her not to word it that way any more. After that manager left, though, she did lapse back into that wording.

      1. ferrina*

        Ooh, that’s a prime example when someone should speak up. Usually I’d say let it go, but this has a tangible impact on her ability to do her job (and people’s ability to get childcare!)

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          It eventually became less of an issue as following restructuring, a new employee was taken on specifically for early years related work and this employee had much less to do with it.

      2. Zorak*

        I was about to say the exact same thing! I tried to help my work friend remember to pronounce them differently; she was telling patients that they were illegible under their insurance.

    6. still funny*

      Husband’s friend used “erotic” for “erratic” several times. Husband always laughed it off because he thought friend was being funny or sarcastic. He was not, and was seriously upset with husband for not correcting him when he found out.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        Oh no! That is definitely one where I would tell the person (as opposed to most of these where it’s “eh, I know what they mean. Good enough.”)

          1. Kit*

            The nipple cover is pronounced like one might describe a pale complexion, PASTE-ee.
            The hand pie is pronounced PAST-ee, generally.

    7. Richard Hershberger*

      From Merriam Webster Online:

      : to reduce drastically especially in number
      cholera decimated the population
      Kamieniecki’s return comes at a crucial time for a pitching staff that has been decimated by injuries.
      —Jason Diamos
      b: to cause great destruction or harm to
      firebombs decimated the city
      an industry decimated by recession

      This sense is attested to at least the 1660s. No one thought to complain about it until over two centuries later. Since then the peeve has become a persistent and beloved language myth. It is a pretty weird one at that. If the word were only used in the “approved” sense, it would virtually never be used at all. Instead it has been expanded into a useful word, following entirely typical linguistic patterns. This is how English works. So why pick out this one word to complain about?

      On the other hand, its popularity as a peeve is not that hard to figure out. A really successful peeve has to, first of all, be easy to understand. A split infinitive, terminal preposition, or an absent Oxford comma are easy to identify. “Decimate” is the easiest of the bunch, because essentially every use in modern English is in the unapproved sense. The exceptions are discussions of ancient Roman army discipline and 17th century English taxation. Assuming that neither of these are typical topics in your circle, if you hear the word used, you have that sweet, sweet opportunity to be offended while feeling superior. At least until someone like me comes along, who is able and willing to lecture you about the history of the usage. Then I get to feel superior while you get to be annoyed by me: a win all around!

      1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

        You really decimated that grammar peeve.

        Now someone can only be 90% peeved. ;-)

        1. PhyllisB*

          Richard, you sound like me expounding on the proper use of the word “y’all.” And yes, there is a proper way to use it.
          One summer my New Jersey relatives were here and the teenage cousins were throwing y’alls around for fun with no regard to sentence structure, so 23 year old me sat them down and gave them a lesson in the proper use of the word. I must say they took it to heart and nearly 50 years later still use it correctly.

          1. Artemesia*

            Y’all is the great linguistic contribution of the US south; English has no clear plural ‘you’ and this fixes that. Of course using it to refer to one person is just incorrect.

            1. Artemesia*

              I raised children in the south and had to make sure they grew up knowing that ‘mouse’ as in Mickey Mouse did not have 3 syllables. They grew up with fairly standard TV news pronunciation but my daughter can do southern if she thinks it might be useful.

              1. Clisby*

                I grew up in the South and can only hear one syllable in “mouse.” How were they pronouncing it? Did they pronounce “house” the same way?

              2. Missing person*

                I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and have a tv newscaster “California” accent. It always boggled my mind how the kids I grew up with sounded like they were from East Texas, until I noticed that they listened to country music and I listened to anything that wasn’t C&W.

                To this day, if I am trying to wheedle or manipulate or just plain ask for something outside the box, I will drop into ‘folksy’ faux-East Texas accent that I apparently learned 3rd hand.

          2. Vanellope*

            Oooh I hope you covered proper apostrophe placement as well, I absolutely hate seeing it after the “a”!! :)

      2. PhyllisB*

        Ugh!! I hate “I seen!!” Living in the South I hear that a lot. I tried to teach my children to use proper grammar because as Jeff Foxworthy always says, people hear these Southern accents and automatically deduct 20 IQ points.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Fun fact: the use of “literally” for emphasis dates to the 17th century. Dryden and Pope both used it. Nobody thought to complain about it until the 20th century.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I can see we would be great friends!! I’m a grammar nerd, and drive my family crazy discussing word origins and such. My son is the only one who listens with interest and doesn’t threaten to tape my mouth shut.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        That’s just a sort of slang usage though (slang might not be the right word, but it’s an informal meaning). I mean, it’s reasonable not to like it, but…it’s not wrong in the sense of not being what they intend to say. The people using it are not trying to say something different. They are intending to use “literally” in its slang meaning as an intensifier. It’s in the dictionary as a meaning of the word and is no more wrong than using “cool” to mean “great” rather than “slighly cold” is wrong.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          It is a perfectly standard usage, included in reputable dictionaries without being noted as slang, or even informal, and which has been used by reputable writers for centuries. The peeve against it is simply factually incorrect.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        The last time this came up, someone explained that words that mean “this is a true statement” turn into emphasis words. Thus did verily (very), really, truly, actually, etc take on their modern meanings. And literally is following this well-worn path.

      4. T*

        It’s not misuse for other people to use a word in a way you don’t personally approve of.

        Surely at some point you start to feel silly for outlawing figurative use of the word ‘literally’ just because of the specific word that it is. By that measure, you also can’t use the following words in a figurative manner: ‘really’, ‘truthfully’, ‘actually’…but I’m guessing you do, or at least you don’t pretend not to understand when other people do.

    8. UKDancer*

      We have a number of people in my office who say “you was” instead of “you were” and it’s like nails on a board to me. But obviously I don’t say anything about the fact it irks me. I’m sure there are things I say that are equally annoying to some of them. I’ve had people try and correct my accent and it annoys me so I don’t do it to other people.

      The other one that annoys me is the announcement people make on trains “if you see anything suspicious contact the driver or myself.” I want to stand up and shout “it’s the driver or me” not myself. But I don’t because that would be weird, even in London.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Oh yes, I find myself / ourselves / yourself where it ought to be me, us or you really annoying, too.

        1. Pennyworth*

          Seconding! At school we were taught to check if we were using I/me/myself correctly by removing all other people from the sentence and it would become clear. I/me/myself went to the museum. I went.

          1. T*

            This is just reinforcing my belief that people who get angry over ‘grammar mistakes’ learned grammar by rote and are really naturally very ignorant of how language works.

            ‘Contact myself’ is perfectly fine. Therefore, so is ‘contact the driver or myself’. The fact that it wasn’t taught in your grade school English class doesn’t mean it’s not a valid use of the language.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          “…Williams, and Desmoulins, and myself are very sickly.” Samuel Johnson, letter, March 2, 1782.

          “…the Post and not yourself must have been unpunctual.” Jane Austen (rather passive aggressively), letter, November 1, 1800.

          Shall I go on? I can give many examples, including from such notorious illiterates as George Washington and T. S. Eliot.

          1. Bagpuss*

            Sure. Although language changes so historic usage isn’t necessarily a good guide to current best practice. :) And we can all be annoyed by things even where they are technically not wrong!

            I think for me, part of it is that almost alwas when I come across it, the use of myself etc is in a context that makes the sentance needlessly clunky (and in my experience, it’s something you often see when someone’s written communications are overly complicated so it’s often part of a bigger picture of less-than-clear communication.

            I have an editions of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility which have footnotes, and one of the parts I find fascinating is the notes about changes in language and how subtly Austen uses language as a marker far characters who are snobs or vulgar(e.g. with grammatical and other errors being made by characters such as Lucy Steele or Mrs Elton) , but the notes also set out changes which took place over the period in which she was writing – for instance, between S&S (started in 1795) and Emma (published 1815) . I am not at home so don’t have it to hand to look yup, but IIRC , in Emma, Mrs Elton referring to Mr Knightly as ‘Knightly’ rather than ‘Mr Knightly’ is seen as very rude and presumptious, and shows Mrs Eltonto be rather ill-bred, where as in Sense and Sensibility, that’s not the case , and Marianne and Elinor refer to Mr Willoughby as ‘Willoughby’ (although not consistently!)

            I find the way language changes and is used in different contexts fascinating.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              Yes, language changes. We point to historical usage to establish that this thing people are complaining about is not new, as such things typically are denounced as decay of the language, allowing the denouncer to dismiss current usage as irrelevant. If we dismiss older usage as irrelevant, because it is older, then what we really have is the claim that questions of usage cannot be analyzed by looking at actual language, as all evidence from actual language is irrelevant.

              What are we left with? Some guy’s mental ideal of how the language should be. If actual language does not and never has matched this idea, so much the worse for actual language. This leaves us with a weird Madonna-or-whore complex.

              By way of mental experiment, suppose you were a traveler to a previously unknown land, where a previously unknown language is spoken, and with no intermediary to translate for you. Your task is to learn this language. Where would you start? With the actual language you find, of course. There literally is no other place to start. If you dismiss the actual language as irrelevant, then you have nothing.

      2. T*

        And not because you would be patently wrong?

        Setting aside that you have no basis for calling this grammatically incorrect in the first place – ‘contact myself’ is perfectly fine, grammatically – the number one purpose of language is communication. The most important thing is that everyone who hears the sentence is able to understand who they should communicate with.

        ‘Myself’ is simply far more likely to be heard and understood in a crowded, noisy environment like a train, versus a single-syllable word of soft sounds like ‘me’. Which is why they’re trained to say ‘myself’.

        Whatever rules you happened to learn in grade school are not an objective description of the only correct way to use the English language. Hanging onto them means you are hanging on to whatever prejudices were built into language prescription at the time you attended school.

    9. Bagpuss*

      The one which annoys me the most is when people (especially those who ought to know better, such as other lawyers, or legal reporters, use ‘refute’ where what they mean is ‘deny’ or ‘dispute’ . You see it a lot, e.g. “Mr Smith’s lawyer said he refused the allegations” .

      I feel that professionals in the legal world really ought to know the difference.

      1. Artemesia*

        The worst example of this is in the news where it gets used like ‘Trump refutes claim he laundered funds from Saudi through bogus hotel room rentals.’ Refute implies he was accurate in disputing this and so heavily biases the report.

    10. metadata minion*

      Mine is “disinterested”. It originally meant “impartial”, not “uninterested”, as in, you have no personal interest/stake in the outcome. I realize that both meanings have been valid for probably longer than I have been alive, but at some point I was told the “correct” meaning very firmly and so my But This is Wrong circuit goes off whenever I see it used to mean “uninterested”.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Quite a bit longer than you have been alive. The earliest attested use is from 1612. The sense of not having a stake in the outcome dates to 1659. So there you go. From Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage:

        “The discovery that ‘disinterested’ and ‘uninterested’ were differentiated by meaning… was made at nearly the same time as the discovery that ‘disinterested’ was being used to mean ‘uninterested.'” In other words, someone simply made the rule up, then complained that other people weren’t following it.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I heartily recommend Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage. It is a bit long in the tooth, published nearly thirty years ago, but it is the one usage manual that starts with how a word is actually used and how it has been used in the past. Other usage manuals at best only very reluctantly consider the reality of the language. Merriam Webster will give concrete recommendations, but insists that they be grounded in reality, not some pet peeve of some guy two hundred years ago that has been mindlessly repeated ever since.

          2. Roland*

            Yes! Go Richard. If one person reads your comments and quietly starts unpicking any of their grammar superiority beliefs then yay. I used to be like that too, so I know how easy it is to fall into those ways of thinking.

        1. The missing comma*

          I very much appreciate your responses in this thread! Language is so fascinating.

          I found that realizing that many of the differences in grammar and word usage are regional/dialectical variations (rather than right or wrong) allowed me to stop thinking about these as ‘errors’. There is a classist/colonial element to some this correction that I had been unaware of for years and changing the way I think about language was really helpful for me.

          1. Clisby*

            Yeah, I wouldn’t correct someone’s English usage unless what they were saying completely changed what they meant to say and it would actually matter if they were misunderstood. Or, of course, if my job was copy-editing.

    11. Lizzy May*

      My boss says whenever instead of when. And sometimes that still will work but often it does not. Because he’s my boss, I say nothing and cringe internally.

      1. Sister George Michael*

        Saying ‘whenever’ for ‘when’ seemed really typical when I was in Belfast. It threw me at first.

    12. Limotruck87*

      I had a coworker who used “granite” when she wanted to say “granted” and a supervisor who was a big fan of completing things “in one fowl swoop” (instead of one FELL swoop). The lifelong literary nerd in me was constantly wincing.

      1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        See, I would be imagining a flock of chickens descending in a swoop (even though I know they don’t fly) to accomplish whatever was being done in the “fowl swoop”. It’s a very entertaining mental image.

      1. Observer*

        Yes? Please do explain it to us. Apparently we are all illiterates to use it in the way that the word is actually defined in the dictionary.

        I just did a quick check, and so far every dictionary defines it the way it’s commonly used. In some dictionaries, the original usage doesn’t even show up, or it shows up as a historical usage / explanation of the history.

        The current usage showed up in the 1660’s, so this is not about people who don’t know what a word means.

    13. Someguy*

      My boss refers to two people or groups doing the same work as”duplicitous” fairly regularly and with customers. “Well, me may be being duplicitous here, but…”

      Just have to let it go

    14. AY*

      I was very grateful when some coworkers let me know that “the lawn needs mowed” is not standard American English, at least not in formal writing. It’s extremely standard where I live, but really grates on others. I still say it, but I know not to write it.

      1. The Eye of Argon*

        Yinzer? Have an Iron City and fried jumbo sandwich nat for me and ignore all them jagoffs always giving you trouble about redding up the lawn anymore.

        On the other side of PA, here in coal country, I can’t watch The Office (US) because they pronounce Scranton properly. Thanks to a weird glottal thing, natives correctly mispronounce it Scrah-en. Also, things like buh-en (button), mou-en (mountain), ee-en (eating). Oh, and calling bell peppers “mangos” although that’s dying out.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I hear it all over the place in Indiana (though I don’t remember hearing it in Michigan) and it really does grate, yes.

      3. Clisby*

        It’s never bothered me, but I didn’t encounter it until I moved to Ohio. I also met people from Indiana and Pennsylvania who said it.

    15. Employed Minion*

      My first job after school, I worked with a great group of people who were all old enough to be my parents. One of them used ‘pacific’ instead if ‘specific’. Some of us staged a conversation about how some people mix up words and mentioned that mix among others. Blew her mind

    16. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I have a lot of these.

      Mute points. Irregardless. Ignorance of the subjunctive (e.g. if I were sane). Blue cheese. The lessor of two evils. Nip it in the butt. The list goes on, far, far longer than would be productive.

      When they start to get to me, I try to take a deep breath and remind myself that I, too, am imperfect (misapplying a linguistic term as the antonym of the other definition of perfect). And I, too, am prone to malapropisms, erratic word order, etc.

    17. t-vex*

      Just this morning I was reminiscing about the events manager at my former workplace who widely advertised a Holiday Bizarre.

    18. Butterfly Counter*

      Mine is nonplussed. The definition has now changed to include the opposite meaning, but I’m still mad about it.

      The best usage I’ve seen of the word was in the X-Files episode, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” where Jose Chung takes in Scully’s stoic face and says, “You seem non-nonplussed.”

  3. Akrasia*

    OK, so #5 is boggling me completely. How is this not dodgy as heck, to the point of being prohibitive in a work environment? It raises risks of indirect discrimination against people with disabilities or health conditions that could exclude them from the activity or put them at risk if they engage in it, and risks of liability if someone makes themselves seriously unwell or gets injured while participating. It risks adverse consequences for people who don’t participate–including making them feel they have to disclose private information that is not relevant to the work they do, which can have ongoing impact on their career.

    And that’s to say nothing about the wild overstep of an employer making employees’ superficial wellness indicators its business…! (Because, incidentally, this isn’t really about health, which would be much better served by the employer supporting employees’ control and boundaries around their work, providing adequate leave and pay, and ensuring employees are supported when things go wrong for them; it’s not about competitive exercise and certainly isn’t about arbitrary weight norms.)

    And!! On top of all this, it boggles me that the majority! of this work group is not only eager to participate!! but it already does this shit twice a year in its spare time!!! Why. Why? WHY. Why are they lining up to be weighed, at work, in front of their colleagues.

    I may be very naive, and sheltered, and not American, but I am seriously horrified. WTF.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      It also immediately removes a portion of people from the chance of doing group activities since plenty of people are perfectly happy with their weight, no matter what that weight might be.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Any focus on my weight would make me less healthy, not more. Could I benefit from weighing a bit less, as a side effect result of making different choices about food and exercise? Yes. Would competitive weighing and monitoring of weight loss be healthy? Absolutely not. I declined to be weighed throughout pregnancy. I’m sure as shit not being weighed in the office.

        1. Antilles*

          Could I benefit from weighing a bit less, as a side effect result of making different choices about food and exercise? Yes.
          Yep. And for plenty of people, it would even be the opposite: The “scale result” of making different choices about food and exercise would leave you at the same weight or maybe even adding pounds by building muscle.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            This has been my experience. I started a consisted exercise routine about a year ago. I’m stronger now, my body is shaped a little differently, clothes fit me differently, but the number on the scale is exactly the same as it was a year ago and I’m not at all troubled about that. The point of exercising was to be healthy and strong, and I’m seeing progress on that front so I don’t see why I should worry about an arbitrary metric that’s only tangentially related to my actual goals.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*


          I have two issues with it: I am very competitive, and I have a very distorted relationship with weight and eating. If I took part in this type of thing I would end up weighing more, after I tried to starve myself and my brain and body rebelled against me starving myself. It would undo years of progress toward a more healthy relationship with food.

          I really hate being told to “lose weight”. I hate workplaces equating low weight with wellness and health. I have finally gotten to a point where I will go off on people who try to push it – if they don’t accept my polite refusal, they get told off.

          Yes, folks, I’m 61, I know I’m fat. I know all of the diets and “plans”, I’ve heard that weight loss is supposedly a “simple matter of calories in vs calories out” (it’s not), I’ve heard that “if you’re overweight you’ll die early of diabetes” (my late diabetic grandmother lived to 90, my diabetic mother is 82, so this is baloney too.) When people tell me this shit like I’m a 6 year old ignorant child it makes me see red – A) it’s wrong, and B) it’s literally none of their goddamn business.

          Because of my reasons and others (I’ve worked with people recovering from anorexia.) I am absolutely, completely, totally against any “workplace wellness program” that includes “weight loss” or any euphemism for it. It is so far from workplace appropriate that it isn’t even funny.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        Yeah, this assumption that *everyone* is always trying to lose weight really irks me. I’ve once had a colleague come into our office trying to discuss weight loss techniques. I looked at him, shrugged, said “I don’t need to lose weight” and bit into a cookie. The look on his face was really funny.

      3. Anon for this one*

        My doctor wants me to gain, or at least stop losing, weight. I just finished chemo, down 35 pounds from before I started, and still don’t have my appetite back.

    2. Double A*

      When I’m able to engage in the wellness activities that actually improve my health most overall (physical and mental) I tend to GAIN weight because I’m building muscle. And I would much rather be able to rock climb than spend a bunch of mental energy starving myself. The only reason I’ve ever thought of losing weight is so I have a bit less the haul up the wall, but since muscle weighs more than fat I feel like my efforts will be a wash.

    3. Meera*

      Maintenance Phase just dropped a great episode about Workplace Wellness – excellent background about how unfair, dodgy and ineffective or outright damaging it can be when done badly

      1. Zorak*

        I was about to mention the Maintenance Phase episode- they note that some thing like 89%? Maybe 90%? Of American employers have some kind of workplace wellness program. And they’re almost entirely on regulated and not defined, so it could be anything from a newsletter about how to eat healthy to an in-practice-mandatory weight loss competition.

      2. Sleeve McQueen*

        Yeah I am listening to it today and was thinking “well based on that, not much has changed since 2018”

    4. Junior Dev*

      I’m an American who has lost a good amount of weight recently and I would probably raise a stink about this and quit if it continued. My health is so incredibly personal and I don’t want to discuss it with coworkers.

      Trying to lose weight quickly for a contest is a good way to make it more likely you’ll gain the weight back when the contest ends, too. There’s really no justification for this.

      1. EPLawyer*

        That’s why this department has to do it twice a year. They lose the weight for the contest, then gain it right back. Lather rinse repeat.

        1. Empress Matilda*

          Hence, the entire weight loss industry. The lose-gain-lose-gain-repeat cycle is a feature, not a bug.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            And in the long term is less healthy. Yoyo dieting causes the base weight to creep up. BTDT, gave it up for some holiday.

            1. marvin*

              The weight loss industry has fully lost the plot on even pretending that they care about your health at all. Sure, just take amphetamines, or try these unregulated experimental supplements, or just straight up laxatives, or go with the tried and true starving yourself for weeks. All of these things are basically guaranteed to make you feel like crap and worsen your mental and physical health, but what really matters is that you’re too busy punishing yourself and shelling out money to question why these corporate entities hold so much power over our self image.

    5. lilsheba*

      100 percent agree….and I would never participate in such a thing myself, and I’m in America. This is part of what’s wrong with America.

    6. Government drone*

      So, my section at work was going to do a weight loss competition a while back. I was the supervisor of the section, and when the organizer sent out an email, I replied (just to him) something to the effect of “Hey, I know that you have good intentions, but please be aware that things like this can be pretty triggering for anyone that struggles with eating disorders or has a disability that impacts their weight. Would you mind limiting any emails to those who choose to participate, and keeping the chatter about it down at work?” The organizer replied to me with an apology and comment that he hadn’t considered that, and I never heard another word about it. I encourage people to speak up on this- many people simply haven’t thought these things through and just see them as fun.

    7. L'étrangere*

      One of my favorite seamstresses recently posted about how a similar work initiative (regular weighing = insurance discount) plunged her right back into an eating disorder she’d left behind years before. Don’t let that kind of thing happen in your workplace!

    8. WillowSunstar*

      My biological mother was verbally abusive to me all my childhood about my weight (and I looked fairly average for the Midwest, mind you, she was just very fat phobic). But it did a number on my self-esteem for years, and to this day, I hate weight loss culture and eating out in groups. I feel obligated to get “The One Healthy Looking Thing” so no one comments.

      I wish as a society, we could get over jusging others for their bodies. Not everyone was blessed with perfect supermodel DNA.

  4. Jade Rabbit*


    The only answer is…

    “Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Some times he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we’d make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds, pretty standard really. At the age of 12 I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum, it’s breathtaking, I suggest you try it.”

    1. Double A*

      That’s it, I’m memorizing this speech prior to a job interview just in case I’m asked this question.

      The only issue is, would this be in response to what you like most or least?

  5. Samwise*

    #4. Bless your heart!

    Keep it to yourself.

    Nobody likes being corrected like that, especially when it’s really not a significant error. If you correct people, almost nobody listening is going to remember the error. But they’re pretty likely to remember you were obnoxious about it.

    Another problem with correcting like this is that inevitably YOU will misspeak and everyone will be delighted to hear it. And not in a friendly, laughing together way.

    I’ve got a Ph.D. in English. I’ve taught English at the college level. I have an excellent grasp of English grammar and usage. I have a large vocabulary and use it precisely. I never correct others, unless it’s my assigned task or I’m asked to do it.

    Some years ago a coworker asked me, “Doesn’t it drive you crazy when people use the wrong word?” “Nope.” “Don’t you notice it?!” “Yes, of course I do.” “Then why don’t you say anything?” “Because I’m not an asshole. Or at least not that kind of asshole.”

    1. Sally*

      I am a grammar, punctuation, and usage nerd, and I also try not to be an asshole about it. It’s quite nice to decide I don’t have to worry about what other people say or write!

      I do have a theory about “weary,” though. I think people are mashing up “leery” and “wary.”

      1. Double A*

        I actually have seen the weary/wary error so often recently that I questioned myself if it weren’t like the insure/ensure thing where apparently they can just be used interchangeably and I didn’t know that. But I enquired with my English teacher team and they assured me it’s just a common error that people will write weary instead of wary.

        I also make a gazillion typos. I write huge quantities of words each day and I don’t have time to proofread most of it. I need quantity and high quality content; that means polish gets short shrift.

        Also autocorrect. The typos in my AAM comments I swear are at least 80% autocorrect sabotage.

        1. Employed Minion*

          It felt like I was correcting autocorrect more than it was helping so I turned it off! Its still tells me if a word is spelled wrong but no changes anything unless I tell it to

          1. LadyVet*

            Same! I have the Merriam-Webster app and often find myself looking up what is underlined and discovering I’m right.

            I wonder if there’s been changeover on the teams that control that.

        2. Observer*

          Also autocorrect. The typos in my AAM comments I swear are at least 80% autocorrect sabotage.

          Oh, yes! Spell check is a very useful tool. But you want to make sure you don’t get bitten by the spill chuck.

      2. Zorak*

        I would support that “weary” theory. It seems like the only explanation, because otherwise you would think that the letters in the word itself would tell you how to pronounce it.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Yep. I’m an English teacher and I stumble over words all the time. All of these examples sound like the kind of mistake people make when they get a little tongue-tied, basically the equivalent of a verbal typo – and even if they’re not, how much does it matter? In published writing, sure. In conversation? Don’t be that person. It’s not kind and it’s not necessary.

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        I do this constantly. I’m well read and intelligent, but there is a short circuit in me in two places – one, when I read words I don’t get their pronunciation – I literally have to sound out words like a second grader if I’m going to pronounce a word I don’t “know” so there is the whole “don’t know how to pronounce a set a words I read but don’t hear” and then there is the tongue tied thing on top of it. Add in a weird accent from having grown up with two regional dialects, and its bad and has gotten worse with age. Add in a spouse who is type A about correcting it – he may yet end up in a shallow grave.

    3. Tau*

      Not sure the situation is entirely analogous, but… my workplace has English as a working language but is about 95% ESL. Most people’s English is very good, but some people’s is a little rougher and a lot of people still make some errors even at a very high level of English (“if we would do X”, bane of native German speakers…) In short: I get to hear a lot of errors on a daily basis!

      My general rule of thumb is that I will politely suggest a correction a la “do you maybe mean X?” if an error is genuinely impeding understanding, if they’re visibly stuck and hunting for the word, or if it’s meant to be sent out externally (and I often get asked to look over important external communications anyway for a native speaker sanity check). Anything else? Hey, communication is happening, what more do you want?

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I work on a team which has multiple members whose first language isn’t English. The only scenario in which I’d ever correct someone is if a mistake caused enough confusion to be a work problem. This has never yet happened – and even if my colleagues use words that are incorrect in a technical sense, I can usually tell what they meant.

      2. ferrina*

        It sounds like you use this approach sparingly (or as necessary to the work), and I agree with this. My work is 85% native English speakers, but it’s still not unusual to hear random errors. I’ll usually not say anything, but if I do it will usually be to rephrase what they said using the correct word (as though my brain had already autocorrected what they were saying).
        “It sounds like the situation is [CORRECT WORD] and I’m wondering if we could solve it by…” Most people immediately realize what happened, make a mental note, and we continue talking about the work stuff. It’s a nice way to flag a misuse without actually spending any time on it (and also allowing them to save face). Part of why this works for me is that I’m ADHD and prone to skipping ahead in conversations, so it’s extremely plausible that I really did subconsciously autocorrect without noticing their mistake. Again, used sparingly.

      3. Empress Matilda*

        My general rule of thumb is that I will politely suggest a correction a la “do you maybe mean X?” if an error is genuinely impeding understanding, if they’re visibly stuck and hunting for the word, or if it’s meant to be sent out externally (and I often get asked to look over important external communications anyway for a native speaker sanity check). Anything else? Hey, communication is happening, what more do you want?

        Yes! I used to be all nitpicky about other people’s language, then I realized that I was only doing it for the purpose of pointing out errors – ie, to make myself sound smarter. Not to improve clarity or understanding, and certainly not to help the speaker – it was literally all about “here’s a thing that I know and you don’t, haha!”

        There are so many dialects and different ways of speaking in the world, that there can’t possibly be One True Correct Way. And also, *so many* more important things to worry about! Life is too short to get mad about “irregardless.”

      4. WantonSeedStitch*

        Seeking clarification when an error of usage or vocabulary creates confusion is absolutely fine. That’s not being a jerk.

      5. Missing person*

        I was team lead of a group informally known as “The Tower of Babble”. I was the only native English speaker in the group. Someone would say something they were unsure of and promptly turn to me, “Did I get it right?” That’s the only time I would correct them, unless it was something egregious like saying that someone’s data was an invalid instead of being invalid.

        I heard a lot of complaining about how crazy English is.

    4. Voldemort’s cousin*

      My thoughts exactly. I’m a former English major and I care a lot about language. I still wouldn’t correct anyone’s grammar or choice of words. I think doing so is really, really rude.

    5. allathian*

      My superpower is that I can’t avoid noticing spelling mistakes and some word substitutions. I’m basically the opposite of dyslexic, in that when I’m learning a new language and see a word written down once, I can basically spell it forever even if I don’t know what it means (although to be fair I haven’t tried to learn a language that doesn’t use the Latin alphabet). I’m pretty fluent, but English is my third language, and I’m sure there are occasional oddities in my syntax that first-language English speakers notice.

      I’m a translator and proofreader, so my job often involves fixing other people’s writing. But I’m not an asshole, so I don’t correct people’s errors in casual conversation unless they ask me to do so. I’m in Finland, and my main working languages are Finnish and Swedish, very occasionally English. Before the pandemic, a coworker asked me to go to “Swedish lunches” with her so that she could practice her Swedish. During those lunches, I absolutely corrected her errors, because she asked me to, and helped her with vocabulary, again on request. I wouldn’t do either unasked!

      1. smol might*

        I’m a translator and proofreader too, with an eerie ability to remember spellings (hi!) – and I agree, unwanted corrections are extremely rude. If I’m proofing a text then of course I’ll flag any errors, but I’m not proofing 24/7 and no one needs me to police their use of language. Besides, it’s often a matter of register and colloquial usage – informal isn’t wrong in an informal context. I wouldn’t leave correct punctuation out of a professional text but I do on social media all the time, because that’s how we do.

      2. Missing person*

        I’m a native English speaker, but I have an online associate in Sweden. His English is very good and I have zero problems understanding him both speaking and writing.

        But…the idioms. I can’t tell if some of them are translations gone wrong, cultural differences or the product of the fact he grew up in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere.

        I got told one time to not climb on the roof. I’m pretty sure it was an admonition to not blow a situation out of proportion, but it sounded odd in the moment.

        1. Sister George Michael*

          I have the opposite experience: I work with a lot of ESL speakers and I am SO impressed by how adept they are with idioms! I don’t think I know any idioms in my second language.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          I love love love learning about idioms in different languages. The imagery can be so charming and apt sometimes.

      3. marvin*

        I have a milder version of this–once I learn a spelling or grammar rule in a language I do speak, I will always notice when it comes up. So proofreading is basically my slightly underwhelming savant power. I don’t correct errors unless I’m asked or I’m trying to save someone from embarrassment.

    6. RIP Pillow Fort*

      You hit the nail on the head. Constantly correcting the grammar/language of adults is obnoxious when it’s not asked for.

      It doesn’t matter that it bothers you. It can seriously hurt other people and do you want to be a person that does that? You really don’t know whether that person is struggling with something. My father in law is dyslexic and my husband and I are on the spectrum. I’ll often make mixed up colloquial sayings for example.

      1. Limotruck87*

        Yeah my ex-husband did it not infrequently, and only to me as far as I noticed. What was ironic is that I was far more prolific a reader and writer than him, had a vastly superior depth of vocabulary, and had no trouble using precisely professional language when required. In fact, the only thing he could really find to nitpick was my occasional use of “so-and-so and ME” vs “so-and-so and I” in private conversation with him. But nitpick it he did! And doubled and tripled down even when I explained that I understood grammar well enough to score in 98th percentile on the GRE and be the go-to person for grammar and vocabulary questions to virtually everyone I knew…I simply didn’t think I had to be on my guard when alone in the car with my loving husband.

        Was he a huge dick who liked chipping away at my self-esteem and confidence in other ways as well, you ask? Why yes, how did you know?

        1. Season of Joy (TM)*

          And people who correct “me” to “I” are often wrong about 95% of the time… like they think saying “I” instead of “me” is the formal way to say it, so it must be the correct word to use in all situations.

    7. Ari*

      Glad I’m not the only person who thinks this way. I would never correct anyone’s spoken words and would only correct written grammar and punctuation if someone asked for my feedback or if it were part of my role.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Oh yes! There are things which bug me but I wouldn’t correct someone unless they asked me, or the error was in a situation where it was likely to create real confusion or misunderstanding

    8. Robin*

      I have a habit of noticing and then mirroring back correct usage in my response (if it sounds natural) but that is as far as I will go. I was taught modelling as a teaching tool and it stuck. I also generally like reflecting the same language as others because it reduces misunderstanding (not completely, but somewhat).

    9. Pool lounger*

      I won’t correct others unless I’m confused (“Did you mean x?”). But I do want people to correct me! There are many words I’ve only read and never heard pronounced, and pretty much any word in a foreign language other than Spanish I’ll probably get wrong, and I want to get it right! I think correcting in a group situation or in a rude way isn’t likely to go over well, but politely one-on-one saying, “You said Y, did you mean X?” with a polite tone is fine. I partly learned to start doing that working with ESL students who wanted to be corrected on everything in their speech and writing. In that case there was no rudeness, and everyone wanted to learn.

      1. Observer*

        but politely one-on-one saying, “You said Y, did you mean X?” with a polite tone is fine. I partly learned to start doing that working with ESL students who wanted to be corrected on everything in their speech and writing. In that case there was no rudeness, and everyone wanted to learn.

        Well that’s the thing. The case of ESL students that want and need to be corrected by instructors is one thing. But that does not generalize to the general population. Which is to say that *in general* even a polite and private correct is a bad idea, especially when it’s as nit picky as some of the OP’s examples.

      2. Little marshmallow*

        I don’t correct grammar or word usage much at all anymore (I used to in my younger years but realize now how annoying it is). I did once correct a colleague whose first language was not English who kept replacing “informed” with “intimidated”. It made for some hilarious emails… but after a few times I gently emailed him back saying “I don’t think that the word you mean” and then explained what the difference between the two words was. He replied thanking me for helping him and it was all fine :) but yeah.. generally… shhhhh.

        Some of the examples in the letter also sound more like slight pronunciation differences … it’s not clear if this is commentary on written or verbal language. I’ve lived in a couple different states and even though they’re all in the same region, I’m sometimes surprised at how people would pronounce something differently than I’m used to but would still spell it correctly.

        I also enjoy intentionally mispronouncing words… it’s fun. LW should lighten up and try it!

    10. PleaseNo*

      I get confused when people don’t add hyphens to their compound names/descriptions. It grinds my reading to a halt and I have to reread it and see what they are actually saying.
      On the other hand, I saw someone add a hyphen when it wasn’t called for.
      Le sigh

  6. Endangered Gummies*

    #5 I could most definitely be totally wrong, but this has the scent of sexism to me. LW specially mentions the 2 bosses are male, and I get the impression many of the people participating in the weight loss ‘contests’ are female.
    Are the men trying to keep the women slim to suit their own gazes, or do they have the genuine intention to help prevent all the negative consequences from sitting at a desk all day?
    Maybe it’s a bit of both, and the women who felt the need to comment on what LW ate for lunch seem to be unfortunately buying into it. Yuck.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      It’s just a dark corner where our the anti-fat feelings in culture has found a home. We all know that there’s a prejudice against fat people and that it likes to masquerade as health concern. Sometimes it just finds a place where there are too many people willing to indulge in it and no one is well positioned to say “my body, my business”.

  7. TBIed*

    As a general rule, health stuff and workplaces are not good combinations.

    Every Fitbit steps, challenge brings out the worst hyper competitive maniacs who can’t help thrust it in the face of the more…relaxed among us.

    Weight loss, steps, all the things like have good consequences and the potential for lots of bad ones.

    Throw in the fate of people with chronic health problems in any office environment…this stuff needs to stay outside the front door.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Our work has a wellness challenge, but it’s a) purely voluntary and b) purely based on meeting a set number of minutes per day, that you can set for yourself, of any kind of exercise you want. It’s mostly designed to remind us to not turn into office furniture during busy season – stepping away for 30 minutes can be excused under “just getting my steps in!” I think there’s a prize but it’s something like a $5 gift card or similar.

      1. Semper Fi*

        One of the best things about the Marine Corps is that you can pretty much always step out of your office to go for a run.

      2. TBIed*

        We used to hire predominantly A-type personalities. Everything turned into a competition, or a ‘thing’.

    2. Yangtze River*

      “As a general rule, health stuff and workplaces are not good combinations.”

      Unless it’s mental health stuff, bc all managers are experts in preventing burn out.


  8. Mer*

    Letter #5 – The podcast Maintenance Phase just did an episode about this very thing – the December 20th episode, Employee Wellness. Highly recommend listening to it.

    1. JustKnope*

      I was coming to the comments to recommend this episode as well! Maintenance Phase is such a good podcast and this episode was particularly interesting – especially the history of the concept of “wellness” and how it got tied up in work.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Oh goody, they were off for a few weeks and I haven’t checked my podcast feed in a couple of days so I didn’t know. Definitely going to listen to this while doing my holiday baking tonight!

  9. Ms. Carter*

    Re L3: I would be incredibly triggered and probably unable to answer either question calmly or coherently if I were asked my opinions about my parents in a JOB INTERVIEW. What an absolutely foolish and useless discussion point to include in any professional discussion.

      1. Chikka*

        Responding to a job interview question by simply glaring at the interviewer would absolutely, definitely, 100% get you rejected from the job (and possibly unofficially blacklisted or labelled as unstable or hostile).

        The goal of attending a job interview is to actually get the job.

        And the interviewer doesn’t realise that it’s a terrible question. They aren’t going to realise that by staring, you’re trying to make some kind of silent point about the question. They’re just going to assume you have no social skills or are unwell.

        Honestly use your words people!

        1. ecnaseener*

          A thousand-yard stare is not the same thing as glaring at a person. It’s specifically NOT staring at anything in particular.

          It’s also not an aggressive thing to do, it’s a thing people do when they’re caught up in memories (often traumatic flashbacks!) so I hope you’d extend a little more grace if you saw it IRL than you did here.

          1. Low Sparrow*

            If you’re making a performative expression, people can tell it’s performative. I promise.

            Except if you’re in a phone interview, which is the case for this letter. Then it’s just a long pause.

          2. smol might*

            Of course, but it’s not a good tactic to do *deliberately* if you’re trying to get a job from the person who asked you such an asinine question.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          The goal of attending a job interview is to actually get the job.

          The goal of attending a job interview is for both the candidate and the interviewer to determine if the candidate is a good fit for the job and vice versa. So if you (general you) decide that the job is not the right fit for you, having the interviewer also come to the conclusion that you are not the right fit for the job is a not a bad outcome. Obviously, in most cases the candidate shouldn’t want to tank the interviewer’s opinion of them as a professional in case they cross paths again, but I just wanted to push back a bit on the idea that the goal of a job interview is to get a job offer.

      2. Delta Delta*

        I’ve only ever been able to do that a couple times. It’s like knowing how to relax your eyes just right, like with those 3D posters from the 90s, and I couldn’t ever do those very well, either.

      3. Glomarization, Esq.*

        I wholly stand by my comment. This blog somehow draws a lot of commenters who seem to live in a world of their own fanfic where they dream up scenarios where they make a dramatic statement or gesture, their interlocutor is stunned into shocked silence and embarrassment at their own behavior, and everybody else in the room claps. This comment section, OMFG, people.

        It is ridiculous to respond to even a very, very bad interview question with a faked PTSD response, as @Bryce suggests they do and it “works great.” It’s quite literally unbelievable that when @Bryce does this (if they actually do, which is doubtful) that it in fact “works great,” which was the point of my comment.

        In conclusion, I was mistaken in my analogy, anyway. But in the spirit of candor towards the tribunal: The “thousand-yard stare” or “two-thousand yard stare” is a description from the Second World War, not the First.

    1. Mockingjay*

      “I prefer not to discuss my personal life; I keep it separate from work. Did you have any other questions about my [professional] qualifications?”

      This response might put you out of the running, but on the candidate’s side, this is a flag to consider before accepting a job – how much is the line between personal and work lives blurred?

      1. All Het Up About It*

        It’s not the worst way to point out that the question is inappropriate. I mean you could possibly still be in the running. Especially if the person who asked didn’t recommend you and others asked why and were appropriately horrified that their co-worker was asking such a question.

        I have to say, part of me does wish they had responded with the “Well I like least that they’re dead” answer.

    2. eeeek*

      First, I agree – and I am so sorry, Ms. Carter – that this question can and would be triggering. It’s an awful line of questioning. But now that I’ve heard it, I’d be inclined to prepare a ready response:
      “I most admire my parents for helping me to develop strong personal and professional boundaries.”
      “I’ve learned, as an adult with strong personal and professional boundaries, that most family structures are complex, and it’s best not to oversimplify them.”
      “That’s a very interesting question – is it intended to elicit information about applicants’ personal and professional boundaries? That’s an excellent thing to know before hiring someone! Please be assured that I am very good about professional decorum, and try to keep my personal life, personal.”
      I admit, I’d also be interested in their responses to my answers, since I wouldn’t want to work for a place that blurs those boundaries.

    3. Beth*

      I’d have a terrible time over that question, and would probably do my best to return the awkwardness to sender. I’m in agreement with the LW: the thing I hate most about my parents is that they’re dead and I still miss them terribly. (They both died when I was in my 30s.)

      What a despicable question.

    4. Chikka*

      I have actual diagnosed PTSD from growing up in a severely abusive home and being a CSA survivor. It’s very, very offensive to genuine suffers to suggest that pretending to do a “thousand yard stare” is an appropriate way to passively aggressively tell an interviewer that you dislike their question because for some reason you’re not able to use your words.

      My comment was in response to this statement: “I’ve found I can do a thousand yard stare, works great.” That comment certainly implies the poster is doing an acting job because they’ve found that impersonating a symptom of PTSD “works great”, and that the poster is not genuinely having an automatic PTSD response they cannot control.

      It really doesn’t make a difference if you believe there’s a difference between a “stare” and a “glare”, the fact remains any job applicant who suddenly goes silent and starts staring in response to what the interviewer believes is an okay question (it’s not an okay question but clearly the interviewer doesn’t think so or they wouldn’t ask it), there’s absolutely no way an interviewer isn’t going to be freaked out and it will definitely definitely lose you the job.

      Sometimes the commentariat here seem to forget the purpose of attending job interviews is to get a job, not to put people who don’t behave the way you want them to in their place and teach them a lesson (which won’t even work in this instance, because no interviewer is going to make the connection between an applicant staring silently at nothing in the middle of an interview, and the realisation that a question is hurtful – they will just think that you are very strange and possibly unwell).

  10. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP1 (declining lunch for planning committee) I actually agree with them that she should have declined the lunch, and I think I would have in her position. I’d probably accept if I’d been involved for, say, more than half of the time.

    They’ve gone about it the wrong way though and should have accepted this “faux pas” more gracefully.

    I wonder if they thought she’d approached them each individually to make it harder to say no? (a lot of people would feel pressured into saying it was OK if they didnt really think so).

    I hope she resigned from that committee after the way they handled it though!

    1. Aphrodite*

      I disagree. It’s not as if the committee members paid for her lunch themselves. The company paid so no one was out any money. She may not have put as much time in as everyone else–and she was sensitive to that fact–but she did help out when they asked. If her contributions were so minimal in that one month they should not have asked in the first place because they obviously did not need her by that time.

        1. All Het Up About It*

          Exactly. The committee needed help and they asked her. If they didn’t need the help, then they shouldn’t have asked. And as several other people said, the last month of the event can include a LOT of heavy lifting from a committee member.

          I really hope both OP and Meghan moved on from this mess soon after this letter was sent in.

        2. Zweisatz*

          Yeah. The distinction is did she participate at all and the answer is yes. There will be many more colleagues there who did not participate in the committee and therefore didn’t attend the lunch, but she did and she should.

      1. Clisby*

        I’m with you. It’s also not like they all got a special bonus, and some people could easily have thought the person who worked one month shouldn’t get the same as the ones who worked for 12 months. I don’t care how nice the restaurant is, it’s just a dang lunch.

    2. Despachito*

      She stepped in when they desperately needed her. She literally got them out of a tight spot.

      Then she expressly ASKED and all of them said OK.

      How on earth was she supposed to guess that when they said “OK, no problem” they in fact meant that she was committing some outrageous offense?

      Their behaviour was incredibly shitty, and I cannot wrap my head around it. If I was Meghan, it would take a serious toll on my mental health.

      I am dreaming of the solution someone proposed – to hand the Big Boss publicly 50 dollars for the lunch because it is obviously causing so much pain to people to whom I did a favour and who explicitly said it is OK for me to go, along with my two-week notice.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      I disagree. Anyone who *volunteers* to help with a project deserves to join a thank you lunch for all volunteers. Why should Meghan be treated as a pariah when she was kind enough to help a group that needed it? It was a lunch, not a salute where she stood on a podium and received accolades at others’ expense.

      The group’s response sounds like a surefire way to keep anyone from offering to help for next year’s event.

      1. Allonge*

        Yes! Good luck finding anyone else ever to be on this committee, and certainly to join and help out last minute.

    4. tamarack etc.*

      That is such an odd attitude to me. It’s the committee that is getting thanked, and she’s on it. Once they start parcelling out individual contribution it can only get more competitive (ie. worse for a collaborative culture). Why would anyone care if she got a lunch with less work than some others.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      The faux pas would have been excluding Emily in any way; certainly that’s why she was invited, because that much is obvious. Of course she deserved to be recognised, and a happy team who felt stable and secure in their worth would feel no problem with her newness except whether they had made her feel welcome *enough*. The only way to make a bigger faux pas than failing to invite her, is to give an invitation with a secret catch, where the expectation is of her declining it. Which is a faux pas of such impressive magnitude I’m honestly astonished they managed to achieve so well, and were so openly and verbally dreadful about it. I honestly didn’t think such sophisticated, complicated levels of rudeness and pettiness existed. It’s like they found the fountain of mean spiritedness and sip from it hourly. I hope they enjoy their miserable griping in each others’ dubious company.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I don’t think “the group” invited her as such, so it isn’t their error. The CEO (or someone on their behalf) issued the invite to the group from the company, and probably wasn’t aware of the detail of everyone’s involvement or that she’d only been pulled into it at the last minute. I think if that kind of recognition is scarce at that company (inferred) it does become a bigger thing about who receives the little recognition there is.

        1. Kevin*

          But she’s not taking away any recognition from anyone else. Recognition is not a finite resource here. It’s not like they had to uninvite someone from the lunch so she could go.

        2. LilPinkSock*

          I’m curious where it is implied that recognition at the organization is scarce at LW’s company. I’m more curious how excluding a committee member from an event recognizing the committee, and behaving like overgrown brats, could possibly be acceptable behavior.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          It just doesn’t matter who invited her, except that she was (and of course she was). In fact if you’re merely a guest, then it’s even more a matter of good manners to keep your nose out of the opinions on who should have been invited. Only the very nasty and small amongst us see our invitations as better and more important when they’re more exclusionary.

        4. Coconutty*

          It isn’t ANYONE’S “error”. The lunch was to say thank you to the committee. She was on the committee, and apparently stepped up when they really needed some extra help. It took absolutely nothing away from the other members — they didn’t get less money, less food, or less recognition.

    6. Ashley*

      It’s not even a faux pas! She asked if she should go, EVERYONE said yes, so she went! She’s not a mind reader.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Huh. I would say that the group ask is what you do if you want social pressure to preclude any nos, and individual asks is what you do when you want to give everyone a chance to tell you what they really think.

      (What I would have really thought in this situation is that everyone on the committee goes to the lunch, how odd that it even arose as a question–and if asked in a group, and I got that response out first, hard for anyone else to say “Now see here fun havers….”)

      1. ecnaseener*

        Agreed, a group ask would be more potential pressure. Getting explicit consent from every individual is kinda hard to find fault with.

      2. Budgie*

        I see this, but if a coworker came by my office to ask this question I would still feel the pressure that I’m expected to say “Sure, it’s fine come along!” Maybe because I’m expecting her to go around saying “OMG that budgie is such a grinch can you believe she doesn’t think I deserve to be rewarded???” to bolster her position…I’m kind of cynical. I would feel a little cornered. I would probably ask my superior what to do rather than my peers if I were Emily.

        But in this scenario I wouldn’t feel bad about her going either because I’m not paying, she did participate, and it’s not like I’m getting less lunch if she’s there. A total non-issue that got blown out of proportion.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I don’t think they did feel like they were being Grinches, but that’s a perfect description of their attitude. They are perfect examples of shrunken hearts and attempts to spread misery. What kind of human asks someone for a favour at the eleventh hour, then begrudges them a thank you lunch that they didn’t even have to pay for?

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        It’s the same principle even if the stakes are smaller. The lunch is in recognition of the work put in over the year to get the event successfully happening, not just for the event itself. Similar to how you don’t join a company in November and expect to get the annual bonus in December for the year’s work (and that is why those bonuses usually have stipulations like only being payable if you’ve been there more than 3 months, and then are pro-rata if less than a year. Yes, I realise it would be silly to pro-rata a lunch, before anyone says so!)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The lunch is meant to foster goodwill; it’s a mild pleasant camaraderie building exercise, not compensation.

          This is like arguing that if the company has a summer barbecue to thank everyone for their hard work, someone would need to figure out tenure at company and then work out everyone’s food allotment based on years worked. So the new person gets half a roll, and Gladys from Accounts has 4 lbs of ribs even though she’s a vegetarian. And then Phil argues that the food allotment also must be weighted by contribution, so he should have more ribs than Gladys. Then the company never does anything nice for employees ever again.

        2. EPLawyer*

          This is completely different from a year end bonus. The year end bonus is for YOUR individual work over the year.

          This was a lunch thanking the committee for putting on a successful event. Which Meghan was part of. Maybe she only played a small part since she joined at the last minute. But we don’t know how much work each individual member of the committee actually put in.

          1. Zweisatz*

            Yeah, that’s another irony. We all know people who slack in group activities (or just didn’t have much to do), but somehow Meghan is the only one who allegedly didn’t deserve the lunch. They can’t tell me everybody else in the committee put in the same amount of effort. And yet they seem to not be shunned.

        3. Empress Matilda*

          In baseball, everyone who was on the team that wins the World Series gets a ring, regardless of how long they were there. Off-season acquisition who was traded away in April? Still gets a ring in November. Player called up from the minors for a month to replace someone on the IL? Yep, they get a ring too. If they put on a uniform and stepped onto the field at any point in the season, they’re considered part of the team and they get a ring.

          I assume it’s the same in other professional sports as well – the ring is given in recognition of their contribution, not in how much time they spent in the game.

          Not saying that one way is better than the other, just that there is precedent for including everyone. And as others have pointed out, Meghan was there for the month that the event happened – she joined late, had to get caught up, and worked the busiest period of the entire cycle. Maybe if she had been there for month 2 and then left, that would be a different story – but she definitely was there for the hard part, and therefore definitely deserves the lunch.

        4. Allonge*

          But even if the company feels like this, the right thing is not to invite Meghan in the first place. Which is still… pretty rude, but at least it’s a clear decision with someone taking responsibility for it, not this backstabbing fake-polite clique b******t.

          Mind you, I have never seen an event where most of the work did not happen over the last month or so (but ok, this can of course be different, I rarely was involved in events that needed a full year’s work as a setup). Obviously they needed her for the work. If she was involved for a month somewhere in the middle where not a whole lot happened and would be disinvited, maybe I could see why.

        5. Waiting on the bus*

          I very much disagree.

          If I joined a company in November and the team I’m on was treated to a lunch by the company in December in recognition of their work, I would very much expect to be included in that lunch even if I have only joined a month prior. Because to be excluded would be astonishingly petty and small-minded.

          (For the record, we had two people join our team the same week our team was treated to a two day extravaganza in one of our remote locations to celebrate a big achievement we managed to hit a few months prior. The two new colleague were of course invited and no one begrudged that the company(!!) picked up the tab for the two as well.)

          1. Zweisatz*

            Exactly. It’s supposed to foster team spirit as much as show appreciation and the company would create a very strange division to leave these people out (and them declining to go would probably read as stand-offish).

        6. Kella*

          A thank you lunch is much more comparable to a holiday party. You don’t tell new hires that they aren’t allowed to attend. You don’t even exclude low performers. As others have said, it’s a show of good will, intended to increase morale, and celebrate the collective accomplishments of the group.

        7. Ellis Bell*

          It’s silly to compare a lunch with compensation though. That’s not how social occasions work.

        8. marvin*

          I suspect some version of this logic is probably what the rest of the committee is thinking as well, but I admit that I can’t really get my head around it. I’m guessing that the company culture must be really hierarchical or competitive or something. Meghan even went out of her way to be modest about her own contribution during the lunch. You would think this lunch was a nobel prize with how territorial everyone’s being. I’m so curious about why the letter writer is the lone outlier here.

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        Exactly! It’s a LUNCH. Unless they were serving caviar and champagne or having it catered by French Laundry or something, it’s not like they are out anything except a sandwich or two if someone extra attends. “Oh dearie me, Megan’s here, now we have to order one extra gold-leafed caviar-sprinkled pizza with chopped hummingbird tongues!”

    8. HearTwoFour*

      Meghan didn’t beg to join; she was ASKED to join because others had dropped out for various reasons. It sounds like they needed people at that late stage so that balls weren’t dropped for this Very Important Event.
      What if she had been on the committee for two months, instead of one? What if she had been on the committee one month and a day? What length of tenure would be appropriate to accept one meal’s worth of food for her efforts?

      1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*


        The committee asked her to join. They needed the help to pull this event off successfully, they brought her on board, and they’re gonna begrudge her a lunch hosted by the C-suite?!

        Pack of complete quackin’ donkeys, the lot of them.

    9. I should really pick a name*

      Meghan was added because the committee was short-staffed.
      Presumably, that means they needed Meghan to assist with the planning.
      Why should Meghan be excluded from the lunch?

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        Exactly. This lunch is thanking everyone for their contributions to the committee. Meghan’s contribution to the committee was stepping in when they needed her.

    10. Ari*

      Hard disagree. They asked her to join the committee because they needed help. Since she volunteered her time to help, why would they not want her to share in the celebrations after a job well done? Her presence at a lunch isn’t taking anything away from what the others contributed.

    11. Um, No*

      What is “faux pas” about being invited to a lunch to celebrate something you’re involved in, accepting the invitation, and then confirming with every person that the invitation is real?

      No. The faux pas was committed by the a-holes on the committee who are choosing to be so nasty to someone who willingly stepped in last-second…and by anyone who supports their childish, bullying behavior.

    12. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd I hope you are reading the responses here and taking them to heart. Because if you have a situation similar to this in the future, I hope your thinking changes – not just for others it might impact but for yourself. Don’t lose out on a nice lunch because of some bizarre, twisted, and outdated ideas on who “deserves” a lunch reward for their work.

      They needed help, which she provided. Who cares that she was on the committee for a short time? She was asked to provide them help they needed and she provided it. She was part of making the event a success and since no one’s “reward” for that was reduced because of her presence, thinking she should have declined the invite is so bizarre.

    13. Swiftie*

      “OP1 (declining lunch for planning committee) I actually agree with them that she should have declined the lunch, and I think I would have in her position. I’d probably accept if I’d been involved for, say, more than half of the time.”
      LOL what

    14. RagingADHD*

      1) She was not eating food off of anyone else’s plate, literally or metaphorically.

      2) She demurred several times during the “recognition” portion of the event. So she did not, in any way, shape or form, steal the spotlight from anyone else.

      3) The committee members (and possibly you if you think and behave this way) would have a lot less to be disgruntled about in life if they learned to express their actual feelings when people are kind enough to inquire.

    15. Random Bystander*

      I agree with the others who are disagreeing about whether she should have declined the lunch. However, I am also firmly in the camp of “say what you mean, mean what you say” and do not tell me “Yes” and expect me to magically divine that your ‘yes’ actually means ‘no’.

    16. Kella*

      This is only applicable if each individual was evaluated for their relative contributions over the 12-month period, and their performance analyzed, to determine whether they met the minimum threshold for *checks notes* attending a company-hosted lunch.

      Even more boggling to me than telling Meghan that yes it’s fine for her to go and then getting mad that she went, is thinking that it’s rude to go when someone *explicitly tells you to go* but it’s not rude to ignore their request for your presence?

    17. GreyjoyGardens*

      I disagree. Nobody should be expected to read minds or assume that people don’t really mean what they say. She asked, they said yes, and the shocked Pikachu when she did take them up on their offer was totally, completely, 100% out of line.

      If she should not have attended, then they should have told her. What kind of a dysfunctional office is this where everything has a hidden, double meaning? Nobody should have to waste energy walking on eggshells like that!

      Megan was in the right, the planning committee was in the wrong, and I hope karma smacks them in the face with a cosmic herring with “whyyyyy can’t we get help on this committee” next year.

  11. WoodswomanWrites*

    I disagree. Anyone who *volunteers* to help with a project deserves to join a thank you lunch for all volunteers. Why should Meghan be treated as a pariah when she was kind enough to help a group that needed it? It was a lunch, not a salute where she stood on a podium and received accolades at others’ expense. The group’s response sounds like a surefire way to keep anyone from offering to help for next year’s event.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      I am being petty and mean and hope they don’t get any help at next year’s committee and are left scrambling. With no time to eat their cold, congealed lunch.

  12. Keymaster of Gozer*

    5. No. There’s a few things I’ll absolutely exhaust myself fighting against and weight loss contests at work is one of them. Or being told by someone at work that you need to lose weight.

    What you eat, what you weigh are none of the company’s business. And it’s extremely dangerous to push a ‘thin is healthy’ mentality – eating disorders have a high mortality rate. It’s not true either.

    So yeah, I’d be that one pushing back with “I am not joining in and do not talk to me about it”. Because I’ve had enough judgment on my fat self to last me decades.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Because I’ve had enough judgment on my fat self to last me decades.

      This, a thousand times this.

      I have been fat since puberty, and I’m 61 now. I have been on diet after diet after “plan” in my life. I have at last 75 pounds of “diet weight” that came from gaining weight after failed diets. I have had people in “health” classes push diets, “wellness programs” pushing diets, acquaintances pushing diets, non-GP doctors pushing diets (not even close to their specialty) and family pushing diets. It’s exhausting, and I am now hypersensitized and very, very angry about it.

    2. GreyjoyGardens*

      Weight loss at work is nobody’s business. Maybe if you happen to be a fashion model, but I am sure OP 5 works in an ordinary office like most of us. The powers that be need to back off and realize that weight is a personal thing. I don’t think “weight loss contests” or “fitness contests” have a place in the office. Sure, if Jane and Fergus want to wear their Fit Bits and count steps, that’s fine, but official contests, no.

  13. Ewesername*

    Funny story about a work weight loss challenge. I am vehemently against the idea (it promotes an ableist culture, in my opinion) but management thought it was a good team building event. The contest was most weight loss percentage based on starting weight.

    I entered …. the office cat.

    The cat has just been told by the vet that she had hit Chonky (10lbs) on the weight chart. It was also just after Christmas and she’d gotten her fair share of treats. So a few of use got together and made her an exercise plan- laser pointer chase in the morning, catch the mousie at lunch, a little more laser before we went home. That, along with a tweak in diet, did the trick. She lost 2 pounds, approximately 20% of her body weight.

    She won.

    People. Were. Upset.

    No one was upset when we entered her. Everyone thought it was cute. They just took exception to her winning the $100 prize.

    We ignored them, happily took the money, got her a new cat tree and a fluffy bed.

    We didn’t have any more challenges based on weight loss.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Not all heroes wear capes!

        (I bet the cat would love it if OP wore a cape, especially with fringe or feathers at the edge.)

    1. allathian*

      This is absolutely fabulous! No more weight loss challenges was the aim, and you got what you wanted, so that counts as a huge win.

    2. TinySoprano*

      I love this so much. Though I had to do the weight conversion from lbs to kg, and then had the horrifying revelation that my sister’s cat is… almost 17lb (which sounds better as 7.5 kg.) If he got down to a healthy cat weight he’d nearly have to halve himself.

      1. Ewesername*

        She’s not a very big cat, which is why the vet wanted her to slim down a little. I wouldn’t worry your sister’s cat unless she is.

        1. Enai*

          Yes, with animals the body condition score is more based on how the animal feels when touched (are the vertebrae palpable? Good! The ribs? Also good! No to any of these questions? Usually not good) and also varies with breed and build (a Rottweiler is dangerously underweight when a similar height sighthound would be obese, for instance). I’d ask the vet’s opinion if it was my cat.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        We had a 25 lb cat. Thus did we figure out there was some Maine C in his background. (Got as a kitten when he just had big paws.)

        He was chonky under fluffy, but that came from small rodents supplementing his diet. Our current cats I’m not sure where you would even put 25 lbs.

        1. Delta Delta*

          I had a chonk, who also had some MCC in his background, who topped out at 24 pounds. And he was tall and had paws like tennis rackets. He could catch flies in midair with one swipe. he was some kind of cat.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            The Maine Coon brothers who play Grudge on Star Trek: Discovery are 27 lbs each and don’t look fat. They’re very long and tall under a lot of fluff, when you see them compared to human cast members. Shoulder to rump distance is at least as long as the human’s shoulders are wide.

        1. kitryan*

          Yup- my girl was never bigger than 8lbs and hovered generally between 7.25 and 7.5, and was generally small and slim, so we were concerned when she dropped below 7lbs (and never had cause to worry about her being *over* a healthy weight). This would be unreasonably low weights for most cats, she was particularly small and lean.

      3. Hlao-roo*

        Adding to the chorus of people saying this is likely OK. My family has had cats that were:

        – 15 lbs and a healthy weight
        – 22 lbs and way overweight (should have been the same size as the 15 lb cat)
        – 19 lbs and a healthy weight (bigger-framed cat than the 15 lb and 22 lb cats)

        1. Jam on Toast*

          We have 3 cats. Puss is what we affectionately call “big furred”. She’s a heavy, solid cat who’s consistently weighed 14 to 15 pounds her entire adult life. In contrast, Boots weighs just over siz pounds. She’s got light bones, a slim build and isn’t food motivated. Our new kitten, Allis is the poster cat for sleek cat health but she’s also on track to hit 15lb+ when she’s fully grown. They all eat the same food, in the same amounts but they’re all different physically.

      4. SarahKay*

        It definitely varies by cat. My sister’s cat weighed only a pound more than my cat, but was shorter (nose to butt) and had a much smaller frame. Mine was obviously slim while sister’s cat… rippled when she trotted into the house. Not, you understand, her muscles rippling, just her fat.
        Thing is, we fed them the same amounts but sister’s cat was a very effective hunter. We lived out in the UK countryside so she had lots of prey, but I guess her weight was self-limiting – too fat and she wouldn’t be able to run / pounce fast enough to catch anything – as she never got really obese.

    3. Jj*

      This is the only acceptable form of an office weight loss challenge. Congratulations on your win and for breaking the system

    4. The Eye of Argon*

      This is the most adorable malicious compliance story I’ve ever heard! I hope Office Kitty is enjoying the rewards for her efforts and frequently showing her butt to the haters <3

      And chonkage really does vary by cat. My biggest is 18 lbs, but he has a sturdy frame that can handle it – huge paws, thick limbs, even a thick tail. You can feel his ribs and backbone through his skin and he can run and jump and wrassle with the others no problem. The vet was more concerned with keeping him from gaining weight too fast while he was growing to avoid straining his joints.

      1. What Angelica Said*

        I was thinking the same thing! Much love to Jorts and the weight loss winning kitty for fighting the system.

    5. The*

      Thank you for this story! Definitely the absolute best way to handle the awfulness of a weight loss competition.

    6. The missing comma*

      This story brought me joy! Thank you. Weight loss competitions are utterly toxic (and ironically unhealthy). This was such a perfect response!

    7. Bagpuss*

      This is awesome. Maybe I shoud make a formal weight loss plan for my cat? At her last check up the vet said she could do with losing a little weight (As she supplements what I give her with fresh, free range mice and the like, it’s not easy, although I think some of her weight gain is probably due to her stealaing food from the kitten. She is getting lots more exercise now, though, what with having to jump on the kitten on a regualr basis. Kitten, when she arrived, spent about 3 days hiding under things and looking as though she was scared of her own shadow, then decided we were mostly harmless and and that Large and Unwelcoming Cat would really *like* to be bounced on a lot.

    8. Season of Joy (TM)*

      Not only is this story perhaps my favorite of all comments, including crazy holiday stories, it also elicited stories of other chonky and faux chonky cats, which I love with all my heart. Bliss.

    9. Ewesername*

      Thanks for all the kind comments.
      Thought I’d pop on to add:
      Due to COVID the office closed and Georgia came home with me to isolate. Closure ending up being permanent, so I have her as part of my severance.
      She is now a retired office cat, who gets all the treats but is keeping slim by running up and down the stairs with my other two. Usually at 4 am.
      Seasons greetings and best fishes to you all!

  14. Luna*

    I really don’t like it when people tell you something and then are offended if you take them at their word, like it should have been ‘obvious’ that they expected you to disagree or decline. It’s so annoying, it leads to misunderstandings and, in this case, undeserved resentment. I already have difficulty with social norms and subtleties, and this type of stuff just makes it worse. If they didn’t want Meghan to join, they should never have offered it. I’d much rather society became okay with more open bluntness. It would really avoid miscommunications.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. I’m well aware of the ask vs. guess culture divide, but this seems extreme even for a guess culture.

      1. münchner kindl*

        To me it’s “lying culture”. It’s not that people say “No” indirectly by hinting, which can be decoded with either a good radar or by practice for the euphemisms.

        It’s that everything people say to your face is a lie. “I’m your friend” “I like you” “You look good in this dress” “Of course you can come to party if you’ve been invited” “Come over to my house” = all lies.

        Of course dealing with this is hard since you can’t depend on anything people say, but they’ve convinced themselves that white lies and not saying open Nos are polite, while being mean jerks behind people’s backs, so you can’t change that culture, just leave.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I mean, I think I read a room pretty well, but I’ve failed at this before—someone told me that something I’d done had been a serious imposition for our office admin, so I went to her and said, “Hey, I heard this was an issue. I’m really sorry; is there anything I can do to fix it now/it won’t happen again,” and she assured me everything was fine. And then I still kept hearing she was mad at me. Like, I don’t know what you want at that point?

        1. Falling Diphthong*


          Reminds me of mothers of teenagers who fight about fingernails, because this particular kid needs to be fighting with the parents about something and fingernails are a nice safe context for rebellion.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        I have a horrible relative (thank god only related by marriage), and she plays these types of awful mind games. Acts like everything is fine to your face and will act like you’re the awful one for assuming otherwise but will continue to talk major crap about you behind your back. (We cut off interactions with her two decades ago.) To imagine a whole office full of her? Ugh.

      2. LilPinkSock*

        I wonder if she was actually mad, or if someone was just making a fuss over nothing. I had a boss who would constantly blow things up and tell me “What you did was a huge problem for So-and-so”, but when I would talk to So-and-so, they would have no idea what I was talking about! Just a jerk boss wielding power inappropriately.

      3. GreyjoyGardens*

        She wanted you to grovel and beg for her forgiveness while telling you “Sorry isn’t good enough!” “There is NO WAY to fix what you did.” She got her jollies from tormenting people.

    3. Generic Name*

      Yeah, a neighbor of mine did something similar over the color we were going to paint our house. My husband and I each asked both owners of the other house a few doors down if they had any heartburn over us re-paining our house a similar color to theirs. They were both like, “no no, it’s your house. Paint it the color you want.” One day I see someone from the HOA standing in front of our house with the proposed paint swatches and looking back and forth between our houses. I go outside and ask what’s up. Turns out the wife had complained to the HOA about the paint color (that they had already approved). I couldn’t believe that she had lied- she told the HOA we hadn’t talked to either of them. Ultimately not a huge deal to switch because we hadn’t bought the paint yet, but what’s the damn point of talking to someone like an adult if they’re going to lie to your face (and then to other people)?

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        I think that people like this just like to keep others on a string in order to jerk them around. It gives them a weird, petty sense of power, especially if they don’t feel powerful in other areas of their lives. “I hate my job, I hate my husband, and I hate living in this neighborhood, but at least I can make my neighbor squirm!”

  15. TG*

    For Letter #1 – that place stinks. They are petty, childish and bullies.
    If I were HR I’d be telling people to cut it out and grow up. It’s a lunch!
    I hope she somehow was able to get away from those people – would love an update.

  16. Dumpster Fire*

    I wonder how the event would’ve gone if the work that Meghan did just didn’t get done? Or who might have stepped up to do that work? Would the event have been as successful without Meghan stepping up when others left? Jeez, it’s a damn LUNCH! “Oh, since Meghan is here, nobody can get cheese on their burgers!” What a bunch of losers.

  17. Irish Teacher*

    LW3, those are really bad questions. As you mentioned, what if your parents had been abusive or criminals. I doubt they want to hear, “the thing I liked least about my parents was their gangland involvement and the way they trained us to lie to the police, but the thing I liked most was that they never directly involved us in their crimes.” Or even just something like “the thing I admire most about my father was the effort he has made to remain sober” or heck, even something like one of them had a serious illness and yet managed to be a good parent while say going through chemotherapy. There are so many ways that question could go wrong.

    They seem to be working on the assumption everybody has the happy, loving family and that what they like least is going to be something like “my dad could be very strict” or “my mum was very disorganised.”

    LW4, this is really one of those personal peeves that you just have to deal with. Precision of language may be important to you, but it may not be to them and there may well be things you do that may irritate them in the same way this irritates you. There are people who think women not wearing make-up creates a bad impression in the workplace, for example or people who think that having certain accents does and while this is not comparative to those, as it sounds like they are using words that are objectively wrong rather than simply having different preferences or being from a different background, my point is that people notice different things and this might not be hurting their professional personas as much as you think.

    A certain amount does depend on the job. There are jobs where it’s more likely to create a bad impression but given how common it is at your workplace and that you didn’t specify any reason for accuracy, like “we are proofreaders,” I’m guessing your workplace doesn’t fall into the category where it has a major impact on the work.

    You also aren’t going to “help them.” The odds are they know the correct words, but just slip up sometimes. Drawing attention to it won’t prevent that. It may even make them more nervous and more likely to make mistakes.

    LW5, this really bothers me. If they are encouraging everybody to take part, that means they are also encouraging people who are at or below their ideal weight to lose weight and therefore become less healthy. If they are only encouraging those who are overweight, that’s problematic in other ways.

    Wellness competitions are problematic anyway, if they are being run by people who are not qualified to determine what is healthy, but the idea that everybody should lose weight is really problematic.

    And that isn’t even considering people who have eating disorders and could be triggered into a relapse. This is a really dangerous thing to be pushing on everybody. Having somebody is already underweight and needs to gain some competing to lose more weight than somebody who may be overweight and trying to lose it.

  18. skunky x*

    The thing is, with the parents question, it would be so easy to phrase as “What are the best and worst qualities of someone you admire, either someone you know personally or a historical figure?” and you’d get the same sort of information.

    Now whether that’s a relevant or worthwhile interview question is another matter, but it’s a much better phrased one for sure!

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Or something like, “thinking of people you’ve worked with over the years, give me one trait you really admired in a colleague and one trait that you found difficult to work with.”

    1. Generic Name*

      My thoughts exactly. More than once I’ve seen an update where the LW basically says, “that thing I wrote about? Well, that was just the tip of the toxic iceberg, and I not a new job”

  19. JustKnope*

    I was agog at Meghan even feeling the need to go to each of the committee members individually to ask if she should attend the lunch! This is an office recognition lunch, not some exclusive club invite! If she did a month of work on the committee she can show up to eat some food – and as the LW points out, she deferred praise at the lunch, which is really all the situation calls for. This is just NOT as serious as literally anyone in the company is taking it. (Also 12 months to plan a 250 person event is… a lot.)

    1. Robin*

      Yeah… I joined my current org in July; we planned and executed a hybrid conference in late October with about that many attendees. 3.5 months of planning/prep max. And it was for outside people, this conference was just for company employees…

  20. Rob aka Mediancat*

    #1 required Meghan to either read her co-workers’ minds, which is literally impossible, or be an expert at “reading the room,” which is difficult to impossible for a lot of folks, including me. If I don’t know someone really well, i’m going to take them at face value, as are a lot of people, which means this is entirely on the people who “think Meghan should have known better.” She shouldn’t be expected to read between the lies (sic) and get that they didn’t really think she belonged there. None of us should. They have no right to be even the least upset.

    1. Observer*

      Actually, it strikes me that Meghan read the room pretty well. The problem is that “reading the room” was not enough. She was expected to read people’s minds, and know that they will lie to her face and talk behind her back.

      There is a reason she asked everyone if it’s ok with them and specifically said that she’s not trying to minimize the praise going to everyone else.

  21. Vice President of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    OP #1…

    It sounds to me as if the other committee members intentionally acted in bad faith by endorsing Meaghan’s presence at the lunch for the sole purpose of criticizing her for it afterwards. (Even if that wasn’t their actual intent, that IS the appearance.)

    I would advise both Meaghan and OP to start job-hunting ASAP.

  22. The One Who Burned the Popcorn*

    OP 4’s use of the term “precision of language” is giving me The Giver vibes…

  23. another glorious morning*

    The parents thing is very weird. My parents are great an loving people who of course have flaws like every other human. The thing I like least about my parents has no business being discussed in an interview at all. Honestly neither does what I like most about them.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      This, exactly!

      Not to mention, most people would not have prepared an answer for this – although maybe that’s the point, to see how candidates react to unexpected questions? If so, I would hope that’s a bona fide requirement of the job, like if you were applying to be a press secretary or something. And even then, there are better ways to phrase it – they could ask your favourite or least favourite thing about a celebrity, as skunky x suggested above.

      If I had that question come up in an interview, I would react one of two ways. Either I would freeze and be unable to come up with anything; or I would literally tell them everything. “My father cracks his knuckles and says “irregardless,” and my mother wears these old-lady shoes all the time and always overcooks the carrots…” Neither of which is particularly helpful in a job interview situation!

  24. mreasy*

    Maintenance Phase just posted a new episode about workplace wellness. It’s great as all their eps are – but digs into the legal backing for a lot of these programs and also gets into the stats for their success / lack thereof.

    Work is not the right place for weight talk and activities like this! It’s mind-boggling to me, and I’m an able straight-sized person. If anyone who is fat, has a history with ED has a chronic illness, or who is otherwise disabled, is necessarily excluded / harmed by these programs!

  25. Lena C*

    Re LW3, seriously what answer could you give if they asked you this? (I do love the response given earlier on in the comments but wouldn’t be brave enough to use that!)
    I’d struggle to come up with a polite way to say ‘imnotansweringthat’?

  26. Happily Retired*

    The trait I like most about my parents: they would never ask such an inappropriate question in an interview for a job.

  27. Tree*

    #5 – a good rule of thumb is that if The Office did it, don’t do it in your office. Visions of the two gross bosses making everyone stand on a huge warehouse scale …

  28. OhYikes*


    I mostly let this go, but I had one time that I just couldn’t. I had a former boss who used to say “carnal knowledge” when he meant “tribal knowledge”. Those are obviously very very different things. I let it go for a while and then he did it in a meeting with a client and I finally decided I had to let him know. He was embarrassed but thankful.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I’m glad you corrected your former boss on that! I think the exceptions to the “never correct” rule are:

      – formal communications and it’s your job to proofread/check/correct
      – an obviously embarrassing word choice, like in the case of your boss or “still funny” upthread, whose friend used “erotic” in the place of “erratic”

    2. Generic Name*

      Hilarious! I had a former boss who emigrated to the US as a child. She had no accent, but she often misused idioms. They were normally innocent, and you could tell what she meant, so nobody corrected her.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        Oh no! I regret that, in a conversation about word misuse, you have hit my all-time biggest pet peeve in language use: saying some has no accent.

        I can absolutely promise you that, by definition, your ex-boss had an accent. Everybody does. If you can speak, you have an accent (and I think, though I’m not 100% sure, there is also such a thing as using sign-language ‘with an accent’.

        What she had is an (I’m assuming) *American* accent.

        1. Dahlia*

          Sign languages kind of do have accents!! Beyond even the difference between American Sign Language and British Sign Language, say, people from New York often sign faster than people from other places. People from the southern states touch their lower face and chest more. And dialects like BASL – Black American Sign Language – also exist!

          It’s really interesting, I’d highly suggest reading about it.

    3. Narise*

      We need a posting of all misused phrases. I had a direct report that used reach around instead of work around and didn’t realize there was a difference, thought they were interchangeable. To say the conversation, held privately, as to why she could not use them interchangeably was awkward is an understatement.

  29. BellyButton*

    I had a colleague who would pronounce “debt” as “dept” (de-pt) and it drove me nuts. I would respond back by saying the word correctly in a sentence, but she never picked up on it. I wonder now if she thought I was mispronouncing it.

    1. Sister George Michael*

      I had a colleague who pronounced all the Cs in Connecticut. I didn’t correct her because I didn’t think it would come up a lot.

      However, as a native Illinoisian, I DO correct out of staters who pronounce the S in Illinois, because it really grates!

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Another Illinoisian here, and omg yes, does that ever grate! I’m from Illinois, doggone it, not Illinoise! :-D

  30. TX_Trucker*

    #5. I come from a different perspective than does not apply to companies who mostly employ “office” folks. I’m guessing HR cringes with how often we ask employees about their blood pressure, medications, and other things that you don’t normally talk about. In the USA, there is a nationwide shortage of commercial truck drivers. Several years ago we noticed we were loosing many of our drivers. Not because of resignations or involuntary terminations – but because they couldn’t pass the federally mandated health exam. High blood pressure, diabetes, BMI, and a neck size greater than 17″ (yes, they actually measure it), make it more difficult to pass the exam. Without that medical certification you can’t drive a commercial vehicle. And if you can’t drive, there is obviously no way you can stay employed by a trucking company. I work for a great company and we don’t have any trouble filling driver vacancies. But I rather have intrusive health programs and keep our existing employees, versus recruiting new ones.

    1. The missing comma*

      There are things that employers can do to support employees being healthy. Weight loss competitions are not one of those things. They encourage unhealthy and unsustainable dieting behaviour, and can increase disordered eating.

    2. Bagpuss*

      But presumably your employees are aware of the test and thtthat’s why you are asking those questions? And even in that scenario, I think that a weight loss competition, as opposed to support for accessing services that might help people stay healthy, would be inappropriate.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        IMO, weight loss competitions are never appropriate. Competitions encourage unhealthy behaviors and perverse incentives.

        But standards for health for truck drivers, airline pilots and other physically demanding jobs are not “weight loss competitions”, and ideally have a bearing on the person’s continuing ability to do their job.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      It sounds to me like you ask employees for information that it relevant to their ability to do their jobs.
      There’s a difference between “We need you blood pressure to be under this level to drive” and “Follow this routine to lower your blood pressure” coming from a person who is not your personal health care professional AND it has no connection to your ability to do your job.

    4. Observer*

      The thing is that your perspective is valid. But it’s only valid IN YOUR CONTEXT. There is a direct link AND there are regulatory implications for the you and your employees. So, sure you’re going to have to ask questions and stick your nose in to some extent. But there is no excuse for this stuff in any other context.

  31. AA Baby Boomer*

    1. My team is flipping out and thinks a colleague didn’t deserve to attend a thank-you lunch

    I think you should consider taking this to HR. They are going to lose a good employee over this if things do not change.

  32. Marz*

    Yes definitely had that thought. Lol, if an author uses the same phrase you do to set the tone for their authoritarian dystopia maybe you should consider taking it down a notch or two. Or, lean into it and make the corrections over the loudspeaker.

    However, Meghan’s coworkers seen to work in an infuriating thought experiment where you can’t believe what they say and people are supposed to guess they mean the opposite of what they say, and also they’re incredible petty for no dang reason.

  33. Beggars and choosers*

    Letter #4 reminds me of my boss, and I’m never sure if I should mention it to him or not:

    We’re not in an English speaking country, but we work in software development and our dev teams are from around the world, so meetings are held in English. My boss’ English is perfectly serviceable overall but he has one quirk: he misuses the word ‘beg’ constantly. And I do mean constantly.

    Given his native language I understand where the mix up comes from but it still makes me cringe when he says “I beg you to think of the deadline” when he means “please keep the deadline in mind”. And it’s always that exact structure:
    I beg you to [X], He begged me to tell you […], She begged us to implement [Y]

    I’m sure everyone understands what he means and it’s not like anyone else’s English is perfect. It’s just super weird to hear our boss “beg” so much and I always wonder if I should say something to him after all.

    1. Generic Name*

      I’m a native English speaker from the Midwest (home of what is considered “standard” American English). Unless you can tell that others are confused by what he says, I don’t think you need to correct him. What he is saying is technically correct, just slightly off in a nuanced, contextual way.

  34. Observer*

    #4 is out of line for all the reasons stated here and in the comments on the original post. I think that the thing that most annoyed me, though, is the OP’s claim that they are concerned that it might actually hurt the people making these mistakes.

    It’s not just that I don’t think that these errors would hurt these folks. It’s that I don’t believe that the OP cares about that in the least bit. It’s a pretty obvious excuse for over-stepping their bounds.

  35. dedicated1776*

    I see some people are being kind of mean about #4 but I am just here to say, I absolutely appreciate the frustration. Where I work now, people continually say “line of businesses,” and it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. Alison’s advice was spot on, though. 99% of the time it just isn’t your place and you gotta let it go.

  36. Ginger Cat Lady*

    If “precision of language” is important to you, be precise in your own language.
    Its importance to you does not mean you have to (or even get to) correct other people.
    You can only control you, not everyone else.
    This is a you problem, and there’s no magical way to do something rude (go around correcting everyone all the time) that isn’t rude.

  37. Alyssa*

    To anyone dealing with something like #5 now – my absolute favorite podcast Maintenance Phase just did an episode on Workplace Wellness that will scratch all the right itches. Perhaps the link to the podcast could be sent to a trusted manager or someone in HR.

  38. soshedances1126*

    Good lord, that parents interview question is awful. My father committed suicide when I was 21, and my relationship with my mother is incredibly fraught due to physical illness, mental illness, and deep generational trauma. If someone asked me that in an interview I think I’d start sobbing and have to leave the room.

    What are people thinking with interview questions like this?? Or are they just lucky enough to have no idea that people have challenging parental relationships and personal lives don’t need to come to work? Especially when I’m interviewing and have never met you before. I really hope they ended up with a reason to rethink asking that question.

    1. Sister George Michael*

      I’m so sorry you had to deal with all that! I’ve found that people who had happy childhoods, even very nice, sensitive people, simply can’t understand what someone with an abusive childhood went through.

  39. Critical Rolls*

    LW #4: Always find a way to correct someone if their incorrect use of language is making their meaning unclear, or if it is likely to cause offense or embarrassment. Otherwise, it’s completely relationship dependent. I know people I would correct on stuff like this any time, but that’s because we have an existing relationship such that I know they want that information, and I know how to give it to them without making it weird.

    But if anyone knows how to make my one one friend stop pronouncing tome as TOOM please let me know. It’s on purpose. Send help.

  40. Spindleshanks*

    #5. I haven’t seen any comments on this:

    “If we all go out to eat, my choices are usually commented on by a few of the women here. (I can’t help it, a cup of soup is not going to be enough for me, I need at least a sandwich.)”

    Is there a polite way to say: ‘mind your own business’ when it comes to food. The words I would choose in the moment would be hostile and offensive. I’m going to eat what ever I want, I don’t care what the group is eating. I probably won’t even notice unless it looks yummy. But what to say to those who are making it their business that is effective and reasonably politic?

    1. Appletini*

      This is a really good question. I went through the archives to find a few posts which discuss the issue: see next comment.

  41. Sadie*

    I feel like the only time it’s okay to correct people’s language usage outside of genuine communication breakdown is if they have asked you to correct them or you are their language teacher. And even then you have to choose your moments.

    I know if my BOSS of all people were nitpicking my language use outside of genuine work need, as if I were their child, I’d be looking for another job. And honestly, language nitpickers are usually wrong or unaware of regional or dialectical uses and massive fans of their own perceived intelligence.

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