should I correct a service person’s grammar, flower arranging as staff appreciation, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Should I correct a service person’s grammar?

Our family held a special event, and the staff at the venue were excellent, all very helpful and competent, they know their jobs well and I have nothing but good to say about the event. However, during the process of making arrangements via email, the young lady who was my contact person needed my credit card for a deposit and for a couple of payments. Each time, she sent me an email saying, “I have ran your credit card.” In the same way that a woman would subtly tell another woman that she has lipstick on her teeth, I would like to gently tell her that “have” and “ran” do not go together. I want to see this event planner be her best. Is there a best way to do that? Or do I let it go?

Let it go! It’s not your job to correct other people’s grammar; you’re not her teacher or her parent (and she’s not a child). I appreciate that you’re coming from “I want to help her fix something she would want to fix if she knew” but it’s an overstep. It doesn’t rise to the level of requiring correction from a stranger.

2. Flower-arranging as a staff appreciation event

This week the company I work for hosted a flower-arranging workshop as part of staff appreciation week (all our support staff is female). This was held in-person, and remote workers had the opportunity to participate virtually (the firm would arrange to have the flowers delivered to your home).

It all sounds nice, right? But why does this feel icky to me? It just seems so gender-specific. Am I too sensitive, or is this problematic. (For the record, I work remotely and declined to participate — this is just not something I’d enjoy, period.)

I think you’re reacting to the fact that flower-arranging feels gender-coded and your group is mostly women. Would you really see a flower-arranging workshop offered to a group of men? Plus it plays into “women’s job is to decorate and make the world more beautiful” tropes.

If a lot of people on your team were enthusiastic about it, I don’t feel super strongly about it . But if most people’s response was “this feels random and out of the blue, and none of us care about arranging flowers,” it comes across as your company just seeing you as Ladies and not as People.

we got weight loss tips for Women’s History Month

3. Who are big corporate meetings really for?

I work for a large international company and it’s my first office job outside of college. I mostly like it. The pay isn’t amazing but there are other benefits, a decent culture, and work that actually interests me. The one thing I don’t like is a two-hour mandatory staff general meeting where several thousand of us sit on uncomfortable chairs and are told how great a place to work this is.

Does anyone actually like these? I’m happy to know about the company’s successes, and even things that need to be improved on. I’m happy to learn about long-term strategy, and what projects are coming down the pipeline. But I’d much rather read a summary than sit in a crowd in an uncomfortable chair, all the while thinking about how much work I have to catch up on. It doesn’t help that for two areas in the business, mine being one of them, we’re in a particularly stressful period of trying to deliver a huge project on a constrained time frame. So losing two hours to what feels like an exercise in corporate fluff is a bit of a tough pill to swallow.

I struggle with the forced fun of it all, and I imagine most people do too. Everything is talking about how we need to get involved, join the fun, etc. They even hired a regionally relevent somewhat well known comedian for it. I just don’t know who this is for — is it exclusively for the high level CEOs? Do they just want to stand on a stage with a celebrity?

Some people like these. Most people don’t. They typically happen because high-level execs and the people who plan these meetings have lost touch with what actually resonates with and will feel relevant to the people working for them. It makes them feel good about themselves and the company they’re leading when they imagine running down the aisle to AC/DC and getting people all pumped up. Plus, they’ve seen other companies do them and so now it is The Way We Do Things.

But the reason they don’t email out a summary instead is that tons of people won’t read written materials. If you want to make sure everyone actually hears something, sometimes the only way to do it is a meeting. A long, boring meeting that could have been an email — but it would have been an email half the recipients didn’t read.

4. Should I not bring up with interviewers why I left my last job?

Last fall, I resigned from my job without another position lined up. I’d completed a major project and felt good about closing this chapter, but also wasn’t really happy with the way my role was shaping up after many re-orgs, didn’t feel like I fit in with the broader culture of the office, had concerns about my supervisor’s integrity, and (the final straw) had some family medical issues come up. This wasn’t a role I wanted to return to after time off, so I’ve used the break to spend time with family and recalibrate what I want in my next position. I left the office on good terms and am still in touch with people from the office.

Now that I’m interviewing, either as part of “tell me about yourself” or elsewhere in responding to questions, I’ve raised this work gap myself. I typically say something like, “I made the decision to leave Organization due to timing: I’d finished setting the groundwork for Project, and some family medical issues arose. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to spend some time thinking about what I’d like in my next position,” and then explain how this role meets those needs. At least once the interviewer appeared surprised when I said this.

However, now I’m wondering: Should I not bring up that I left my last job? Should I wait for them to ask about it? It’s very clear on my resume that the job ended in November 2023. Part of me feels like I’m being proactive so the interviewer can’t assume I was fired or let go if I own the story myself. Am I hurting myself?

I don’t see why that would be hurting you; that’s a pretty unremarkable thing to bring up. That said, I think the responses you’ve seen might be that you’re offering more information than they’re looking for. They don’t need to hear about family medical issues unless it’s directly relevant (like in response to “why did you leave your last job?”). Combining it with “I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to spend some time thinking about what I’d like in my next position” might sound … not defensive, exactly, but like you’re anticipating a concern and trying to address it before they’ve even brought it up. Which you are! And that’s fine, and potentially even smart to do, but if you notice people reacting to it, that’s probably why. I also wonder if it sounds slightly overly polished/rehearsed, which will make people wonder if there’s something underneath it that you’re uneasy about.

However, did this happen with only one interviewer or multiple interviewers? If it was only once, I wouldn’t read much into it at all. In that case, you could try experimenting with not raising any of that on your own (but still using it if you need to in response to a direct question) and see if the conversation goes more smoothly, but I wouldn’t worry much about it at all.

5. Inconvenient internal interview location

I was just offered an internal interview for a job I know I want due to the exposure to the business and the executives. Multiple reliable people have told me I’m a great fit for it and it would be a good move for my career. I preface with that because it’s the only reason I didn’t bail on the interview, given the red flags I’m seeing.

The hiring manager asked to meet in person at an office that is two hours away from the local office where this position will report. No one interviewing for this position will live far from the local office because of the nature of the work (it is a requirement that we be able to commute within X time), so they should know what they’re asking. It would be perfectly reasonable for a candidate to be three hours from the office they are suggesting plus tolls and heavy traffic. The nature of the position means I would rarely be expected to visit other offices. The hiring manager is regularly in the local office for meetings.

I wrote back and asked to meet at the main office, which is about an hour for each of us, or on another day where my business takes me closer.

I confirmed with people who know the hiring manager that this is not thoughtlessness. It’s at best laziness, as that is the office closest to his home. At worst, it’s test to see if I’ll do what I’m asked.

I’m at the point in my career where interviews are as much about me interviewing my potential manager as it is for them to interview me. However, I’d like your opinion on the pushback I gave. Is it alright, especially internally, to negotiate the interview location, especially given how ridiculous of an ask they were making? Would your advice change based on the level of seniority of the interviewee? I would say the hiring manager is technically one rung above me in company hierarchy. If they were a VP I would not likely have pushed back, which is why I ask.

Obviously, red flags are everywhere (they have gone through three people in the last six months in this position) so I am approaching this very cautiously. However, I’m not looking for advice on if I should take the job itself.

Nope, you’re fine. The answer might be no, it needs to be at the local office, but it’s not unreasonable to ask and see what they say.

{ 548 comments… read them below }

  1. Zarniwoop*

    How much per head did the flower arranging course cost? I’d rather be appreciated with cash.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Yeah to appreciate you, we organized this workshop which may either take place during the workday so you can’t do your actual work and may need to stay late or will be outside of work hours where you need to take away from your personal time to attend. that’s not appreciation that’s the office wanting to say they did something to show appreciation.

      Interesting that all the support staff is women. Are there any non-support staff who are women in this company? That might be a bigger problem than the flower arranging thing.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      Yes – when I was starting in office work in the 90s as a temp, I sometimes admired pretty things on my colleagues desks. They always said that it was a gift from the company, and they would rather have the cash.
      Employers, cash is the only thing everyone wants. Give cash. If it’s gift cards, it has to be Visa or MasterCard that can be used anywhere.

      1. EmF*

        My employer gives gift cards as incentives for various metrics (and on other occasions) and rather than Visa or MasterCard that has fees and has to be registered and expire, etc, they just have a variety of options, ask you to indicate a preference periodically of “hey, yeah, gift card for this grocery chain/this online retailer/this makeup shop/this gas station chain/this department store please” and anytime you get a gift card that’s the card you get. Every so often they check in to make sure you’re still happy with the option.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          So, does Pete’s Market have gift cards? (Groceries)
          How about J Crew, the only place that consistently has clothes that fit me? Or the neighborhood bookstore for the commenter below?
          Pretty sure Target and Walgreens do and I would use those up eventually. I’d rather have a card I can use anywhere and treat myself.
          Or actual cash in my pay, even better!

      2. Roland*

        I enjoy good team-building events more than a one-time $50 bonus or whatever. Why is it that the people who don’t so often feel like they speak for everyone?

        1. Throwaway Account*

          I think it is more that most people prefer the money or at least recognition and thanks over team-building events. So the folks who prefer that are in the majority and therefore do kinda speak for everyone.

          1. Victoria*

            We actually have no idea what “most people” prefer. There probably has been some research done about this, but nobody here is digging into the data; we’re all extrapolating from our own experiences.

            That being said, I suspect most people WOULD prefer money, if it were a meaningful amount of money. But the staff appreciation events that I’ve participated were always pretty low budget. Do I really want a (taxed) $7.50 check from my employer? Not really. Sometimes pooled money really does buy more.

            1. Java*


              like a generally enjoyable way to spend an hour + take home flower arrangement is way better than getting taxed on a random $40 that will just go straight to groceries because it’s probably not enough money for me to pay for a similar activity anyway. Probably wouldn’t even cover the cost of a comparable flower arrangement these days tbh.

              And like, maybe I’m the odd man out but when I have coworkers I like (and I recognize some people do hate all their coworkers) I do genuinely enjoy participating in activities with them.

              1. Violet*

                See, I would absolutely hate this! I would feel totally uncomfortable performing a non-work-related skill in front of coworkers and worry so much about being judged. Also, many common flowers are unsafe for dogs or cats, and my goobers eat EVERYTHING, so I’d likely just have to throw the whole arrangement in the trash before going home anyways.

                1. Java*

                  Not to get all armchair psychologist on you – but if a casual activity without winners or losers is enough to trigger such an intense worry over being judged that might be something you should investigate further. You deserve to live a life without that level of anxiety.

                  (Also you could just make someone’s day by giving them the flowers instead of trashing them if you’ve got pets that eat plants)

          2. Roland*

            > I think it is more that most people prefer the money or at least recognition and thanks over team-building events

            Why do you think that? I hope it’s not because of the AAM commentariat because while I love the comments here, they’re notoriously antisocial at times.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      While I am in the site default of “People want cash, followed by paid time off” it’s not unusual to have a budget for doing activities together as team building. And not unusual that on a functional team this actually works to build feelings of camaraderie, or give you a chance to talk to Gladys in Spouts when you don’t normally intersect outside that one email chain.

      I could very easily see a survey with 20 options going out, and this being a popular choice. “Oh hey I wouldn’t sign up on my own time and dime for this, but it would be interesting to learn something artistic and have a nice thing to look at afterward.”

      Male florists definitely exist.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        The absolute best flower arranger I know is my 90-year-old German uncle, and my dad (uncle’s younger brother) is pretty dang good at it too. They really have an eye for what looks good and of course have been doing it so long that they barely even have to think about it. I try but can’t come anywhere close to what they do. That said, I do think flower arranging seems really gendered in this day and age. Why couldn’t the company have sponsored a happy hour instead? Maybe they were trying to figure out how to fill an entire week of staff appreciation and already had other things on the schedule that were less gendered, but if this flower class were the only actual event that does seem a bit off to me.

        And I say this as someone who would probably enjoy a flower arrangement class (as mentioned above, I try to do them but can’t make them look all that great), but I wouldn’t want my work to sponsor it. I work somewhere that is 95% women, with the only two men here in the highest two positions, and if my org offered such a thing I would definitely take offense. Because also, the two men most definitely wouldn’t participate, which is part of the issues I have with this place (that the women are down in the weeds doing the things and the men do all the high-level stuff). (Why yes, I did just get a new job, why do you ask?)

        1. Mockingjay*

          Well, I don’t drink alcohol, so a happy hour is not something I want to participate in. I do go, but it’s all kinds of awkward – people always want to know why I’m not drinking (answer: none of your business), and I end up drinking boring seltzer or tonic water. (Please don’t suggest a mocktail, those are usually terrible and full of sugar.)

          Gift card, please. I can go to the bookstore and indulge myself.

          1. Devious Planner*

            Right, so we’re back to square one then. There’s really no activity that will please everybody, so if workplaces want to give people a low-key way to chat, the answer should be to have a varied set of non-mandatory events (happy hour, art class, whatever).

            I know a lot of people hate the idea that we socialize at work, and some workplaces might genuinely have no use for it, but I think at some (most?) workplaces it is useful to give your staff a reason to talk to each other sometimes.

            1. evens*

              This is a great answer. Since no activity will please everyone and doing activities together is good for team bonding and cohesion (and also many people like them), the best thing to do is to have a variety of activities that are optional.

              What is not helpful is to gripe about everything because it feels some sort of unspecified “icky” or “not everyone can…” unless all the activities are icky and identical. Then a targeted suggestion about the problems with the activity AND some solutions to the right person is the right thing to do.

          2. Lightbourne Elite*

            People are different. I’m a sober alcoholic and would love the occasional happy hour with my coworkers, especially at a place with some good mocktails.

          3. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Well, I guess what I meant by happy hour really is more of a small reception with food, not so much focused on drinking. I’m sorry that you get ppl asking you why you’re not drinking. My brother doesn’t drink anymore either and he’s sick of the questions and the offers too.

            Devious Planner is right that it’s impossible to please everyone, though. IMO work social/fun activities should be very informal and generic/non-specific. And during work hours but not mandatory and not if they will make the employees have to work longer to catch up on missed work. So, small informal gathering with food, larger informal lunch….I was going to come up with a few more but honestly, I pretty much agree that I’d rather have the cash than anything more costly than a company providing food. And if they can’t give cash because the money is budgeted towards “staff appreciation” or whatever, then again I say, food. As long as they are certain to provide something that everyone can eat, of course.

            1. Flasher Bat*

              I have never understood this. On occasions where either a friend or a new acquaintance has told me they don’t drink, I just… offer them something non-alcoholic if we’re in my home, or suggest meeting at a coffee shop if we’re setting up a hangout.

        2. JustaTech*

          Oh, oh, I know!
          Lego flower arranging!
          (Lego has some amazing flower kits these days, they’re really pretty.)

          I’m currently reading a lot about the Montessori method (early childhood education) and one of the things they’re super into (starting very, very young, like 2) is flower arranging. So at the moment I’m not thinking of it as a gendered activity, simply a messy one.

          1. Cookie Lady*

            My nephew gave me Lego flowers for my birthday this month – we built them together and they won’t die! And they actually look really pretty.

          2. Team Metal Rose*

            I have been buying the Lego flowers (and the cheaper knockoff ones as well from Temu). I gave a whole bouquet of almost 1,000 pieces, that I put together with minimal assistance from my son, and gave to my green thumb grandmother as a present that will always look nice but never die. I liked them so much that I bought myself the Lego sunflower kit and put it together. I had to take a break though, some of those pieces are super tiny and really painful for my fingertips, but I bought several more sets for the future. I can see that appealing to several professions in a non-gendered way given the range of types of flower kits available.

      2. KitKat*

        Thank you. This site tends to be VERY skewed anti-anything-social. Most teams working relationships are improved by spending a little time occasionally doing a non work activity together, and it is reasonable for companies to spend a few bucks on it.

        1. Mockingjay*

          My project team occasionally goes to lunch. This I thoroughly enjoy; there are enough local restaurants offering appropriate food choices (we have vegans and celiacs on our team) and it’s a nice break in the middle of the work day. Doing something afterhours when I’m tired is not…fun. Lunch also avoids the alcohol issue for nondrinkers like myself.

        2. Katie*

          I have learned to take the comment section with a grain of salt when it comes to this because it’s extremely skewed to giving unmarked bills of cash for anything potentially social.

          1. Winstonian*

            LOL, yep. Coupled with the fact that the fee for the class (assuming it was hired out) probably was a lot less per head than people would appreciate getting in cash and it would que the “now I have to deal with a $10 gift card crowd.

            1. SnackAttack*

              Yeah, I think people don’t realize that $40/head for flower arrangements would quickly become $10/person with taxes and administrative fees and whatnot. And at our current level of inflation, a $10 check would feel almost insulting, haha (not that I’d turn it down).

          2. LadyVet*

            A lot of the seemingly anti-social comments are about situations in which people can’t opt-out, there’s no attempt at inclusivity, and it seems like the company leadership is doing it for applause.

            Or people have been told there’s no money for raises, but the leadership starts spending on elaborate morale events.

        3. umami*

          Yes – we have a support staff organization that regularly plans these types of activities, and they are very well attended by both men and women. And different ones, depending on the activity, which is kinda the point. Not every activity is going to sound interesting to everyone, and everyone can’t be out of the office at an activity anyway.

        4. Audrey Afton*

          When I was reading Letter #2, I said to myself “Bet one of the first comments is someone complaining about having to do something social or stating that they’d rather have money”. And guess what? Called it right!

          If the “flower arranging class” were all about employee appreciation, the company would have given everyone flower arranging class gift certificates. The point is that the the company wants employees to be social with one another. Feeling anti-social – don’t attend. But don’t complain about the company offering a flower arranging class. I’ve read many letters here from people complaining that they can’t partake in golf, hiking, or other physical group activities, and it sure would be nice if the company offered something more sedentary like a wine tasting or …… flower arranging? (I swear, I’m remembering that flower arranging was actually discussed here as an alternative to physical team bonding activities!)

          My point (and I do have one) is that the company doesn’t want to give you cash. It’s offering flower arranging. Take them up on the offer or don’t – your choice. Just stop looking for reasons to get upset about the offering not be what you’d prefer.

        5. Sharkie*

          I have noticed that too. I get it, especially if you feel under paid, but come on. Some people need that social aspect to thrive at work. Of course work places are going to have some social activity. You don’t have to go if you do want to!

          1. AF Vet*

            Yup. I am one. I’d rather have a lower-paying job in an office than a higher one at home. I thrive on human connection and miss being around other adult people.

            I’m also the one that created a monthly craft group for a community I’m a part of. Most of the time it’s Bring Your Own – and I’ve brought in everything from a patchwork quilt to flowers I needed to arrange (just yesterday, which made me giggle) to dollar store wooden plaques to paint. It’s an amazing stress reliever and chance to flex my creative muscles while not making a mess in my own house. Not everyone in this community attends- and that’s perfectly fine. Those who attend love it and attend regularly.

            If this is a whole week of appreciation, then one more “feminine” gender-leaning activity mixed in with others is absolutely okay (especially if another activity is something like Top Golf or a hike or something else that skews “masculine” and is a more physical activity).

            1. Not Alison*

              I’m a woman and I play golf on two leagues and enjoy it! And I love to hike. And hate crafty things. So please stop being so gender specific on activities because men can enjoy flower arranging and other crafts and women can enjoy sports and physical activities!
              OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

        6. Team Metal Rose*

          If the food choices meet the needs of all involved, I don’t understand why people would be anti-lunch out at a restaurant or brought in, but my positive experiences with both may be skewing my opinion. The cost of a meal, while not cash, can be seen as reducing the food cost for the person, especially if leftovers are involved, which has occurred for me. So, I don’t need to bring lunch for a day or prepare dinner, saving me time and effort, which is appreciated.

      3. londonedit*

        Also, I imagine the company will have had some sort of group booking discount – it may be different in different areas, but where I live I can’t imagine a basic flower-arranging class costing much more than £40-£50 a head, especially if the company booked it with a discount. And I can’t imagine many people being particularly appreciative of a ‘Hey, we’re giving everyone £50 as a thank-you’. Yes, people broadly prefer cash, but when we’re talking less than £100 it’d probably get a ‘Meh, better than nothing I suppose’ response from a lot of people. You really can’t please everyone when it comes to these things, and I expect flower arranging just seemed like a ‘Well, we haven’t done that before, makes a change from the usual’ idea.

        1. crowbar*

          …i think this must be pretty dependant on the kind of job you’re working and the area you’re working in, because to me £50 as a work gift would be a massive amount! i’ve only ever had that amount from work once, as a christmas/”sorry about the cost of living crisis, here’s a bit of extra grocery money” gift, and i know all my coworkers were very surprised and pleased by it haha. i do work in the nhs so i know there’s additional restrictions and lack of funding there, but retail in the area is even less forthcoming with stuff like this from what i can tell

          1. londonedit*

            I think the public sector is definitely very different. My industry (publishing) isn’t very well paid and I certainly wouldn’t sniff at £50, but I know from having read this site that many, many people would think of a £50 gift card as pretty stingy. Whereas a morning’s flower arranging might have cost £50, but the perceived value would probably be much higher for many people. And then there are people who would hate both options!

            My point was more that you’re never going to please everyone – if this company stopped doing flower arranging workshops in staff appreciation week (and I will say I’ve never heard of ‘staff appreciation week’, I’m assuming it’s a mainly American thing) then I can well imagine people being up in arms about ‘being fobbed off with some cheap gift card’.

            1. Prof*

              I mean….the flip side is that perceived value of a flower making class can also be $0. Not something I’d personally ever spend a penny on. Nor would it make me feel appreciated. At least spring for a free lunch for that….

          2. WantonSeedStitch*

            Yeah, I work in the nonprofit sector, and even at the better-paying larger organizations (higher ed, hospitals, etc.) bonuses are pretty much nonexistent and annual increases often don’t keep pace with inflation. Getting an extra $50-$75 bucks would be a pleasant surprise for most people! But in my office, we also do like doing social-type things together. As a group that’s about 75% female, we’ve done things like building gingerbread houses, creating succulent plant arrangements, creating a fancy looking charcuterie plate, etc.

        2. Laura*

          I mean, I’d love to get an extra $50 as an appreciation thing. I’m not super low-paid, but I’m not highly-paid enough to scoff at that.

          1. SnackAttack*

            Not sure about UK tax rules, but at least in the US, that $50 would be taxed pretty highly, so you would be receiving much less in the end (probably closer to $25).

            1. Anonomatopoeia*

              …Based on what? My (US, public) employer can give me gifts of up to $50 with no tax implication (doesn’t need to be reported), and even if they gave me a larger gift, it would just be reported income. There are no income brackets which tax at 50%, though.

      4. Lady Danbury*

        I’m assuming that an entire week of staff appreciation has multiple events/appreciation gestures (otherwise it would be staff appreciation day), so I see nothing wrong with one of the events being flower arranging if that’s what people are into. As a manager, I have a staff appreciation budget that is completely separate from the bonus pool (which I have no control over, other than performance reviews). It’s intended to be used for team activities, so I literally can’t just give it to them in cash. I usually survey my team for ideas and then we vote on which one we’d prefer (paint and sip was our latest). These are always held during the workday during less busy periods, so that nobody is required to stay late to make up the work time.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          This is my take too.

          I work at a university and we host “de-stress fest” for students around finals. Flower arranging is pretty popular with students, regardless of gender. (Though not as popular as puppies! The animal petting activities are always the fave.)

        2. Prof*

          Then…call it team building or something else. It’s not actually about appreciation, it’s about team activities to benefit the employer. Half the annoyance is the misdirection of the purpose.

      5. Immaterial*

        It does feel gendered, but I can also see it as an easy bonding activity option to accommodate as many people as possible. It isn’t too hard to ship people flowers for remote participation and it is neither very physical nor competitive.

        I’d also like to note that why cash is king, there are different tax implication s for cash gifts than for company branded stuff.

      6. Nonanon*

        I was wondering if this were a case to; a survey with more masculine (dirt biking), more feminine (flower arranging), and more neutral (catered lunch) options, and flower arranging won. OP is remote, and I find you do kind of loose a little bit of company culture and quirks when you’re remote (eg Hiram Manlyman in accounting who you met once at HQ and occasionally emailing when there’s a weird charge on your company card who bakes wedding cakes for friends and family, or the female-heavy shipping department being in to fine cigars). If the activity were JUST for men or JUST for women, therein the problem lies, not that a traditionally feminine activity was offered and the department was majority women.
        (Also, if it were a flower arranging course that went into the history of flower language? Yeah, that would have been AMAZING, count me in.)

      7. Nancy*

        Agree. We have a budget specifically for team activities, it can’t just be used as cash or gift cards.

        I personally like having a department-sponsored break during work hours to do something random like flower arranging while meeting Gladys.

      8. Lady_Blerd*

        I agree. I will admit that I do have the privilege of not needing a cash bonus unless it’s substantive because I make a good salary and and have good benefits. That said I’m allergic to pollen so I’d rather have a 20$ gift certificate instead.

      9. Check cash*

        I would absolutely HATE this activity. Anything that is crafty and artistic (which flower arranging totally is) would be torture.
        Why must companies foist these things on people. Just treat each other well each and everyday and make sure you communicate well.
        Ta-da! Team built.

        1. Bast*

          I’m not really into artsy things either, but as long as 1) I wasn’t being forced to go/my performance was not being scored based on my participation at these events and 2) they offered a range of different “team building” and it wasn’t all just the same stuff over and over, I wouldn’t really mind if one particular even did not appeal to me, because I understand for every event you are going to have at least one person who doesn’t like it. If you can opt out completely, even better, but unfortunately some companies count that negatively against you. I worked for a company that factored in your attendance at their monthly company event as part of your raise and performance. If you didn’t go, you “weren’t a team player” regardless of the fact that they were all held after hours, and most involved drinking. Most of us would have preferred cash/time off, but considering that the company was not willing to do that, even a variety of different types of events would have been appreciated. If this company is hell bent on having team building activities, at least offering a range of different things means you aren’t stuck with the same thing you hate month after month.

          FWIW, I am not all about making people participate in events they don’t enjoy for the name of team building, but I am not sure what the repercussions are for OP if they don’t go, and it seems as if this company doesn’t want to offer cash or PTO instead.

      10. HonorBox*

        While I’m not sure I’d LOVE the floral arranging class, I do know I’d actually learn something that I wouldn’t have sought to learn on my own.

        Cash is great, but the activities budget is a great point, too. The budget may not allow for a direct exchange of cash. And let’s say hypothetically that the florist leading the class is doing so for $250 for 20 people. Would those people feel that a gift of $15 is cheap?

        Sometimes cash just doesn’t work. And as someone else said down thread, if the company doesn’t have “cash” in the budget for team activities/appreciation, then it is the right of the company not to give cash.

        Would I be able to find something fun to do with $15? Sure. But might it also feel like too little? Yes.

        1. Check cash*

          The part about the “giving cash” is definitely true. My old company was very cheap and they would buy cheap, branded cups and things (seriously, they were NOT quality, they leaked) and people said they just wanted money, but those things cost like $1 a pop. I would have preferred them not give us garbage, but…they definitely weren’t going to give people $1 gift cards.
          I also would side-eye a company actually spending a lot of money, when they claim they don’t have enough for raises. That’s another tricky thing. Please don’t host a big celebration when you can’t pay us properly. My sister’s old company did that all the time but were always laying people off. Plus, its so wasteful in a resource/environmental sense (the decorations and whatnot)

          1. Bast*

            We had huge, huge holiday parties and a monthly company event (that was usually drinking). We also had a survey that would go around about twice yearly “anonymously” where they would ask for what people loved, hated, etc. We were pretty severely underpaid according to industry average, and considering what we spent on the monthly outings, the Thanksgiving party, and the Christmas party, many people mentioned they would rather just get a raise or bonus in place of the parties and drinking. Man, did they get MAD. We had a big meeting about how ungrateful we all were, most other companies wouldn’t do this much for their employees, etc, etc.

        2. AF Vet*

          My husband’s unit is like this. There’s a fund for team-building activities, no potential for cash bonuses, and major side-eye for both higher ups and the senior enlisted if the commander is a bit too open-handed with day passes (usually reserved for birthdays and high scoring fitness tests).

          So far they’ve…

          1. rented out a local arcade for an afternoon. It’s full of both modern and vintage arcade games and a blast.

          2. rented out a local movie theater for screenings of a few different movies the leadership references – for cultural appreciation and lessons in leadership. (I’m voting Spaceballs for the next one because Kids These Days… :D )

          3. held a dessert potluck & trivia night (obviously after-hours)

          4. held multiple gaming afternoons – bring a board game or play a LAN game. They just had a Mario Kart tournament.

          Obviously none of these will appeal to everyone, but nearly all were held during office hours, there was a range of different activities that speak to their tech-heavy community, the commander usually authorizes minimum manning so almost everyone can participate if they’d like, and the only things mandatory were the movies. :)

      11. Sharkie*

        Yes. I am surprised at the reaction to this letter. In my office building there are 3 very large male dominated companies and we all chip in for building happy hours/ socials. They just had their Earth Day party yesterday and had a flower planter arranging activity. Most of the guys really really got into it!

        1. Roland*

          I wish I were surprised too but it’s always like this any time any social activity or interaction is mentioned in a letter lol.

    4. mlem*

      My workplace has “art liaisons” whose job includes running “art” sessions for teams, so the cost would be hard to figure — it’s some fraction of the liaisons’ salaries. In our case, the sessions are definitely meant as team-building rather than as appreciation per se, though.

    5. Czhorat*

      This is an ineteresting point, but I’ve seen arguments to the opposite.

      Let’s say that they pay $50 a head for the flower class. If you put an extra $50 in my paycheck I’ll barely notice it, and certainly won’t remember it.

      Last year the company took the whole team to an axe-throwing place. It was a fun and memorable little treat that gave us some entertainment and a chance to interact with each other as people rather than merely co-workers.

      I know that not everyone loves those things, but a once or twice a year special event can go a long way towards building a team.

      1. Check cash*

        But not everyone can participate in ax throwing due to medical conditions. And then people have to opt out or just go and not participate. These things devolve pretty quickly once you try and ensure inclusivity.

        I am biased. I HATE these things as a manager and see people use them to cover up the issues with their culture and environment.

        1. Czhorat*

          That’s true – I honestly think flower arranging is a better choice than axe-throwing because it’s less physically demanding.

          Things like this aren’t always covering up issues with culture; sometimes they’re a sign of a healthy culture in that people WILL go to the genuinely optional after hours activity and enjoy themselves there.

          While it IS impossible to find activities that fit *everyone*, finding ones that fit most – especially in smallish groups – can be a positive. It doesn’t scale up that well, but it doesn’t need to; when I’ve seen these they’ve been in either small companies or a small sub-group within a larger company.

        2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          So you don’t do ax throwing (physical limitations), or flower arranging (allergies), or wine tasting (avoiding alcohol), or whatever every time. You change it up, so you aren’t always excluding the same people, and you make sure it’s always truly optional. But team building has value, and I say this as an extreme introvert.

          1. Czhorat*

            Yeah. If there are, say, four team building things in a year and you do two of them that’s neither a huge imposition on your time nor an unreasonable level of exclusion.

            If there are two and you do one that’s still something; I don’t think anyone is advocating for a monthly event, but quarterly or less can fit into most people’s schedule.

          2. Lana Kane*

            Precisely. And we might be understimating the amount of people who might not want to throw axes, but would have a good time watching and chatting with others. With my depth perception I’d be liable to accidentally smite some poor innocent schmoe, but I’d have a good time cheering others on. All this to say, there are ways to participate in a tangential way in these activities. And if you absolutely can’t bear it, then ideally the company is keeping these activities varied.

            1. Lily Potter*

              Precisely, Lara Kane. People can participate socially in many work activities even if the “main event” isn’t their cup of tea.

              You might not golf, but you’re probably capable of driving a golf cart. Drive around and cheer on your co-workers. Take pictures for the company newsletter. Drive around a bottle of bad hooch and offer a snort to the person making the longest drive. Be creative – don’t just whine because you personally don’t want to golf.

              Don’t feel confident about floral arranging? Ask if the instructor has a templated design that you can follow. “Assist” a co-worker with their design. Take pictures of other peoples’ creations. Offer to judge the design contest.

              Don’t drink but still want to show your face at happy hour? Talk with the server ahead of time and arrange to have all drinks delivered to you made “virgin”, even if you verbally order them “standard”. People will think you’re drinking. No one’s going to test your drink to be sure that there’s booze in it. (Just be sure to tip well!)

              I could go on, but you get the point.

        3. evens*

          Well, some people are interested in axe-throwing. Next time maybe it will be flower arranging, or happy hour, or something else. You (and a lot of people here) seem to think that because YOU don’t enjoy it or some hypothetical person couldn’t do it, no company ever should do X. That’s not really how the world should work.

        4. Yorick*

          Of course companies should consider their group when planning these things and find something inclusive. But it’s not necessary to respond to someone’s comment saying they liked a thing to argue that not everyone would like it. If they are well planned then some people DO like them.

      1. JustaTech*

        Lego flowers!
        My husband’s company did that during early COVID as a virtual group activity and everyone had a good time and got a little bonsai tree that doesn’t need to be watered.

    6. another fed*

      I lived at an apartment complex that did this as a community event quarterly and we had more women for sure, but men also showed up, sometimes with their kids, sometimes solo. But everyone was there because fresh flowers perks up your space. I’d just say offer other creative opportunities, some will like some, but not others.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, the office where my company rents space organises events for everyone in the building. Some of them are happy hours or food based (so we had an Eid celebration, an Easter egg hunt, St David’s day party) and some are more of a craft evening (paint a vase, learn how to make a drinks coaster).

        Not all of them are my thing . I probably wouldn’t pay to learn a craft but it’s a pleasantly low stress way to meet people and socialise. I prefer it to the happy hours because it gives you something to talk about and helps conversation flow. It’s not my favourite thing in the world but it’s quite pleasant.

    7. Abundant Shrimp*

      Or a day off that I can spend watching YouTube videos on flower arranging, should I so choose.

    8. Ama*

      Yes — to me staff appreciation is shown by my employer either giving me a benefit (an extra day or half day off) or money. I will also take a free lunch/good snacks if they don’t come with an expectation that I hang out in the break room for over an hour on the busiest day of my entire month.

      My employer has been pretty good about this — but only after they almost had a disastrous staff appreciation day years ago, where they were going to close the office on a Friday afternoon …. and then make us go do a scavenger hunt. It was supposed to be a surprise, but one of the senior staff leaked it to a report that she knew would hate the activity (our CEO unfortunately thought this was the best idea ever, and there’s little that can sway her when she gets in that mode), so by the week of the activity several of us were planning to call in sick that day.

      As luck would have it it was a terribly hot summer and the temps were supposed to be so high the day of the scavenger hunt that the city advised people to cancel any outdoor activities. So they gave us ice cream and the afternoon off instead. They got so many comments about how much people appreciated the Plan B over the Plan A that extra time off became a regular way to show staff appreciation. And no one has ever breathed a word about a scavenger hunt ever again.

    9. Fake Kirkland Coffee*

      If it’s a bulk “stem bar” kind of situation, where they bring flowers and you just pick what you want and there’s maybe some minor individual help in making choices/arranging, those are often around $30-50 depending on where you live and how it’s being done.

    10. ActuallyNotOP*

      My kit wasn’t even delivered, but I can go spend a couple of hours to go to the office/get caught up in Chit Chat if I want. I definitely understand the weirdness of it all. I think we MUST work together. No way this happened exactly multiple places.

    11. Q*

      Around 2009 my boss insisted that we hire a consultant for around $100,000 to “work on morale”. I told him giving us each a cut of the money, which I think would have been about $700 each after taxes, would do a whole lot more for morale. Someone overheard me say it, which didn’t exactly make him happy, but when I retired years later several people mentioned recalling that. They’d have much preferred the cash to a consultant who did nothing for morale. (One of the big things was journaling our feelings. Which were where”s my $700!)

  2. ElizabethT*

    1 … I only correct my children’s grammar. My English-second-language spouse – I only ever comment on his use/ pronunciation IF you’ll think he’s stupid or you won’t be able to guess what he means.

    Other people? No.

    1. Pseudo Anon*

      In my industry, correcting grammar is part of the review process (most people were hired for their technical rather than communication skills). It’s a perfectly normal thing to do with a coworker for formal writing, or with a subordinate in casual communication like most email if it’s been a repeated issue. To do so for a vendor? that takes it from “there’s lipstick on your teeth” to “honey, that colour really doesn’t suit you” territory (to use an analogy similar to the one op used) and as Alison said, is a massive overstep.

      1. Roeslein*

        Same here! I am not a native speaker, and I have to correct native speakers’ grammar all the time. I felt weird about it at first (surely they should be correcting my grammar, not the other way around?) but it’s part of clear communication and normal QC processes – we can’t send work with grammatical mistakes to our clients. I have not had this issue with workers from other countries so I suspect it may have to do with how schools in that particular country not really training writing skills as much. Still, leaving it to businesses to teach people basic things like this is not great in my opinion, it’s not their manager’s job / skillset and unfortunately it’s harder to teach good writing to an adult than to a child/teenager.

        1. UKDancer*

          I think there’s a difference between correcting grammar and language in formal communications representing your company or organisation and correcting peopke you have no relationship with for their use of words.

          So I correct formal documents. When my team prepare new llama grooming standards I make sure they are grammatically correct and use correct language because they are representing my team to the world so I want them right.

          I don’t correct my staff when they speak even though one of them makes some errors that make me grind my teeth because its not necessary, not my place and would upset them. I don’t correct the invoices from my handyman even though his handwriting is awful and he struggles to write because again its not my place to do so.

          I restrict my editorial interventions to those things I’m paid for.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think the distinction between formal and informal communication is key.

            And yes, when in doubt, “Am I being paid to take apart and correct this? If not, then it’s not my job” is reasonable for any professional conundrums of whether to speak up.

          2. Desk Dragon*

            Yup. The majority of my job is copyediting. Outside of paid work and the occasional *requested* favor from a good friend, my only standard for other people’s grammar, spoken or written, is whether I understand what they mean.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              Same! And there can be a class issue in this. Not everyone has the same level of education.

        2. bamcheeks*

          Personally, I think it’s weird that we think writing technically correct and formal English is a baseline that everyone should be able to meet rather than recognising it as a specialist skill that some people have and should be recognised (and paid!) for.

          Writing has always been easy and enjoyable for me, and both writing and editing are skills I’ve practised because they come easily and I enjoy them. My brother is terrible at writing (he’s dyslexic, which doesn’t automatically mean you’re a bad writer but it does in his case!) I’d much rather that I was valued for my writing skills and my brother was valued for his people-management and technical skills than my brother was considered lacking a key skill and my writing ability was just something that everyone was supposed to be able to do!

          1. Roeslein*

            I have dyslexic co-workers. They are usually very good at QC’ing their own work using spellcheck and other tools and I don’t have issues with their writing! And these days AI can be really helpful in providing guidance to write more clearly (only use tools approved by your employer obviously).

            Writing clearly is not a baseline requirement for *all* jobs (nor does it have to be) – but it most definitely is in our line of business where we write reports for clients! The alternative is creating more work for the team members / managers who have to proofread and correct your writing. There are plenty of jobs, including in our company, where strong business writing skills are not needed as most of the communication is internal. My point is that in jobs where we do expect non-native speakers to be able to write in clear, straightforward business English (plus other languages), we should require at least the same baseline from native speakers.

            1. Observer*

              Writing clearly is not a baseline requirement for *all* jobs (nor does it have to be) –

              There is a HUGE difference between *clear* writing and writing that is grammatically correct and appropriate for formal communications. As you can see in the example that the LW provides. The meaning is crystal clear and the LW does not even need to think twice to figure out what is being said. It’s just that the usage is not correct and that somehow makes her not look good. (Which is odd to me, as the LW does say that this young woman was excellent and that she has nothing but good things to say about all of the staff. )

          2. umami*

            Thank you for this! I wish more people understood that writing is a skill! My husband was highly offended once when he said he was a better writer than a published friend of his, and I said no, you aren’t a writer, you are a good storyteller. I AM a writer, and it’s insulting to professionals to say you can do their work better than they can when you … can’t and don’t really understand anything about it. It would be like me saying I’m a doctor because I know a lot about medicine (which I said because he is a doctor lol). He STILL brings up how I once told him he wasn’t a writer, and I just say, yes I did, because you aren’t lol.

            1. TK*

              It sounds like you’re just defining “writer” differently than he is (which leads to different conclusions about what “better” means).

              1. Jack Russell Terrier*

                I’m a Historian amd I suspect the point is being made is a bit different.

                When people are in a profession that doesn’t use the technical skills of say a doctor or a lawyer, but skills other people use in everyday life – like writing – their abilities are viewed differently. In that case, the person’s education, professional experience and time honing those skills for their career are often not acknowledged in the same way as they would be if they’d gone to Law School and were a practicing Attorney.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        It is potentially worse than that. Given the specific example, this could well be a matter of dialect, the vendor using their native dialect correctly. It is possible that they were aiming for Standard English and missing, but it is equally possible that they were simply using their native dialect.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Yep. I once heard my grandma say, “Used to could.” I saw it as a delightful colloquialism that isn’t used where I grew up. (She was raised in a different area.)

            You can be sure I didn’t dare try to correct her. (She was pretty formidable, so it would probably not have gone well for me.)

        1. Bumblebee*

          YES! “Have ran” and its sibling “have went” are Appalachian dialect in my experience (maybe other regions too? would love to know!) and while it might grate a bit if you are only used to Standard English with perfect (meaning elite) grammar, we are losing all kinds of regional dialects and accents and it’s sad. In pursuit of what? So we can all sound like each other? No thanks.

      3. Also-ADHD*

        Yep. I used to edit materials as a core job function (now it’s more ancillary but still part of what I’m supposed to review) and now I’m supposed to coach presenters as well as review materials. Everyone makes typos/misspeaks, but I’d also need to address common grammar errors or overly regional speech/email communication. I’m always careful to only do so within my scope of work. Unless it’s my job and/or someone has asked, you don’t give corrections for stuff like this. You can ask for clarity if confused, and you can certainly correct if it’s about you (misrepresenting your name etc), but otherwise, it’s not a service to anyone. In the case of the letter, it’s a common regionalism I’ve seen, and I’d especially leave it alone.

        I do think we should all frankly be less fussy about being corrected. But it’s human nature to be bothered by it, and grammar isn’t usually worth it outside of established processes.,

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I am not fussy about being corrected, but I have no patience for being miscorrected, which is far more common.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            There’s that rule that if you want the answer to a question you should post the question, then sign into a different account and give a wildly wrong yet aggressively overconfident answer. People will emerge from the woodwork and leap into the thread to correct you for being Wrong on the Internet.

        2. Texan In Exile*

          Not just bothered by it, but possibly very hurt. Some people (looking at my late father in law) use language as a weapon to try to prove their superiority. Correcting someone’s grammar can very easily be seen as a way to say, “You are stupid and inferior to me.”

      4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Lipstick on your teeth, yes I’d point it out. Telling a woman a colour doesn’t suit her, no way! A woman recently told me not to wear turquoise, which I love, because it didn’t match my eyes. My eyes are grey/green/blue depending on I don’t know what, I’m not dressing to match them!
        And grammar: my primary job is translation, where I need to use grammar correctly, my second is teaching English, but I wouldn’t dream of correcting someone else’s grammar! So long as I can understand what they mean, all is good. The primary purpose of language is communication.

        1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

          Does this person insist that people with brown eyes only ever wear brown??

    2. Cold and Tired*

      I work with native German speakers who ask me occasionally for grammar help, but I never offer it unsolicited. And when I manage people and am training them I occasionally will point out grammar in formal written documents, but usually I’m also revising other details like content at the same time.

      Besides those two scenarios, I don’t think I ever correct grammar because h

      1. Cold and Tired*

        Whoops posted too quickly.

        *because it honestly doesn’t matter and isn’t my problem. They’re adults. I’m an adult. I’ll stick to my own lane unless specifically asked. We’ve all got bigger things to worry about haha

        I also speak a second language mediocre-ly and work in German and French which I speak very poorly, so I’m used to making a million grammar mistakes and tend to have a very high threshold for the mistakes of others because I get it.

        1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

          There are some hills I’ll die on, some I won’t. I’ll mention grammar/punctuation/etc. for official documents or something that goes out to parties outside our company, but I’d love little items to myself if it’s not consistent and it’s an understandable mistake. When I was in a non-profit and we were audited by the government, I had a coworker whose emails were absolutely atrocious- no capitalization, no grammar, no punctuation. They were genuinely hard to read for me and I worked with her, so I knew her cadence and word choice. I finally had to tell our boss about it because they were so egregious. I have no idea where she worked in the past where that was tolerated, but I didn’t fly at our non-profit.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      Even correcting your own child’s grammar is probably pointless. If we are talking about young children, parental admonitions don’t much matter. Early childhood language acquisition is heavily studied, as every linguist who has a kid is suddenly fascinated by it regardless of their subspecialty. Toddlers whose grammar is corrected by their parents and toddlers whose grammar is not turn out to pick up standard grammar at the same rate. I observed this with my own kids, as they figured out regular inflections first, then went back and acquired the irregular exceptions. It might be different in a dual dialect context, with the kid’s peers speaking a non-standard dialect and the parents consciously teaching the kid the standard dialect. If so, be sure to make clear what you are doing, couching it as two distinct forms of speech, not as a right way and a wrong way. Code switching is a useful skill.

      The only corrections I give my now-teenaged kids are stuff like how to pronounce a word seen in a book.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Little kid regularization is the coolest thing! (Parent, not a linguist). They’ll say “went” because they haven’t learned it’s related to “go”, then regularize it to “goed”, then finally figure it out.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          You made me remember my niece when she was 4-ish. She told me about a snack she eat-ed at a friend’s house, and couldn’t understand why I was chuckling.

        2. bamcheeks*

          Both my kids had a long stage of using “brang” as the simple past of “bring”: “Where did this come from?” “I brang it home from school.” 8yo’s grown out of it now but 6yo still uses it and I love it so much.

          1. wendelenn*

            Well, she was in good company with Neil Diamond. “Songs she sang to me, songs she brang to me. . . “

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        At one point my toddler sprinkled a variety of clicks into words. It was fascinating, but since my spouse and I could not in fact mirror them back at her they fell out of her language.

        1. Kim*

          Isn’t that just a little bit the worst? Like, I’m glad you figured it out but I’m sad to see your quirks go. <3

    4. Email (Optional)*

      Professional writer/editor and I wholly agree! I only revise people’s grammar when I’m paid to and it’s expected.

      Conversational language is inherently messy, you never know who’s coping with a speech impediment (as a person who stutters, I’m extremely sensitive to verbal workarounds that sacrifice academic grammar for clarity of meaning), and sociolinguistic variety means what sounds “wrong” grammatically to me might be spot-on in a vernacular’s own elaborate rules.

    5. AnonInCanada*

      This. I know I cringe at reading others’ blatant grammatical errors (looking at you, everyone who thinks “it’s” is a possessive adjective! No No No!) Regardless, I keep the cringing to myself. I’m not an English teacher, nor should I pretend to be one on the internet.

      1. Reality.Bites*

        Back in the early days of the internet, when people posted on USENET and had “.sig lines” in their posts, one I always enjoyed seeing was:

        An apostrophe does not mean “Look out! Here comes an S.”

      2. Leenie*

        It’s been my experience that the wrong “it’s” is one of the most common erroneous autocorrects. My phone is also convinced that I never want to say “were”, but I always want to say “we’re.” It occasionally does the same thing with “we’ll” and “well”.

        So, although I’d imagine a lot of the “it’s” people really don’t know the difference. I’d also guess that a reasonable percentage just have phones that are sabotaging them, and they’re not always carefully proofing more casual writing.

        1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

          “Dear Autocorrect: it’s never going to be a duck.”

          Interestingly, I must finally have gotten my phone trained, because in typing this comment, “duck” got autocorrected to the actual word I am usually using. Dying laughing!

          1. Anon in Aotearoa*

            Mine does that so much that I have stopped using “ill” almost entirely, and use “sick” instead. Autocorrect is actually changing the way I use language. It’s making me sick.

    6. iglwif*

      Correcting people’s grammar in their formal written work, when asked (and preferably paid) to do so, is called being an editor.

      Correcting people’s grammar in their informal communication, unsolicited, is called being a jerk.

      Source: Was a professional editor for 20 years.

      1. RunShaker*

        I didn’t even catch what the grammar issue was at first since these type of emails (to me) is to be quick read and confirmation of a transaction. When it comes to these type of emails, why focus on grammar? Depending on your audience, a lot of emails may not be grammatically correct and more conversational. I’m also referring to minor grammar issues like the one in the letter. If OP corrected me, I would ignore it and may be mildly annoyed.

        1. iglwif*

          Yes. I spotted “have ran” as something I would correct in formal writing, but it’s also something many people routinely say, depending on where they’re from. English is spoken in a whole bunch of places, so it has a lot of variants!

          Like, I would never say or write “I was sat” (I would say “I was sitting”), but this is a 100% standard construction in many parts of the UK, for instance. People from certain parts of the US say “It needs done” where I would say either “it needs to be done” or “it needs doing”. People in some regions of Canada, including mine, say “I’m done [activity]” whereas elsewhere people say “I’m done with [activity]”.

          Et cetera, et cetera, and so forth. Which is why editors typically either edit to a specific style guide, as directed, OR develop a style guide for each project. There is no One English to Rule Them All, no matter what anybody says.

          (It should go without saying that no matter what spelling or grammar errors people make in an informal email, you should not correct them unless they ask you for feedback on their writing.)

    7. learnedthehardway*

      I think the only people who should be correcting someone else’s grammar in a work setting are the person’s manager / supervisor or a communications/marketing professional (whose job it is to review outgoing documentation).

      A mentor might counsel a mentee that their written communications skills need some work and that they should invest in their education / use a software tool – while explaining why this is important to their career, of course.

    8. Selina Luna*

      I don’t even correct children’s grammar unless I’m being paid for it. If I can understand the message they’re trying to get across, why should I correct them?

      1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

        I correct mine because he’s still learning – he’s little. Also he watches several shows where the narrators use a different ‘World English’ than what he’ll be using in school, so I take time to explain to him that in some countries x thing is said one way, in our country x thing is generally said a different way, etc.

        1. Anon in Aotearoa*

          The number of times I’ve said to my children “you’re not American, we don’t call it candy here”….

          But you’re right, the key is in understanding that it’s a different English, not an incorrect English.

    9. Imtheone*

      We can have a private discussion about all the grammatical mistakes that are annoying — and then refrain from sharing!

    10. SimonTheGreyWarden*

      I’m a composition instructor and professional writing tutor, so I correct a lot of grammar. Only ever in the hours I’m being paid to do so, of course (other than, like you said, my offspring). I’ve had people ask if I do it when I’m reading for fun or when I’m online and I always say the same thing: I may see it, but if I’m not getting PAID for it I am NOT commenting on it.

  3. Panhandlerann*

    I taught a college-level grammar course for years. Almost every term, there would be a student who would say they were taking it so they could correct the grammar of their friends and family “better.” I actively tried to stear them away from that kind of thinking.

    1. UKDancer*

      Very sensible. There is a time and a place. Last year I was on holiday in Madeira. There was a lady in the pool who decided to come over and correct my swimming technique. I didn’t know her.

      I mean she was probably right but I didn’t want a random stranger interrupting to give me unrequested feedback. I like feedback from my ballet teacher in class but that’s because I want to be a better dancer. At no point did I ask for swimming feedback.

      The point is its fine to give people feedback when they ask for it, but it’s really annoying having someone decide to correct you when you unprompted.

      1. londonedit*

        Absolutely. Last year I was at my local parkrun and I was trying to run under 30 minutes for the first time in months, and I knew I was only just going to squeak under so for the last 200m or so I was literally just legging it as fast as I could to get to the finish (ended up with about 29:55!) And then some random bloke I’ve never met, who I just happened to overtake with about 50m to go, came up to me afterwards and told me that really I should be using my arms more because if I focused on my running technique then I’d find it all much easier. Cheers mate but I’ve been running for 10+ years and I know what proper technique is – but at that moment I was running faster than I should have been and I was just trying to get to the finish as quickly as possible! Again, he was probably technically right, but I didn’t ask for feedback and I didn’t need it at that precise moment in time.

        It’s the same with this sort of thing – at work I’m an editor, so I will correct spelling and grammar in the manuscripts and proofs I’m working on. But if an author emails me and there’s a spelling or grammar error in their email? Absolutely not, there’s no way I’d correct them because it’s condescending and it’s not my job.

          1. londonedit*

            Oh yeah. There’s a certain type of man that gets really uppity about being ‘chicked’ (yep, of course there’s a gross word for it) and I’m in no doubt that the ‘friendly advice’ was all about me having overtaken him.

            1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

              He needed to let you know it didn’t count because you were doing it wrong. :/

            2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              yeah, I’ve noticed that men start swimming faster when they see it’s a(n old) woman overtaking them. I actually move into the next lane so I can overtake them discreetly, then move back once I’m far enough ahead.
              They will also systematically overtake me on my bike too, five minutes after I’ve overtaken them. Oh sorry, “chicked” them. Does “chick” still apply when it’s a 60+ woman, or does it have to be a spring chick?

              1. 1-800-BrownCow*

                Yes, “chick” still applies even at 60+! This is a great story too. I love the double threat, it obviously drives some of them crazy they’re being overtaken by older, wiser chick.

            3. 1-800-BrownCow*

              Ah yes, if all us women had the same level of confidence of a mediocre man, we would change the world.

              I would be so tempted to say to him “I thought you were coming to me for advice, since, you know, I passed by you.”

          2. AnonORama*

            Hahaha I probably wouldn’t be able to resist asking “oh, did you notice my supposed form problems when I PASSED YOU?”

        1. Laura*

          lol, he was just mad that he “got chicked.”*

          I hate that phrase so much, but he seems like the kind of guy who would a) be mad that woman beat him and b) use that term.

      2. ceiswyn*

        Honourable mention here for the guy who tried to ‘correct’ my press-up technique – because I was doing ordinary chest press-ups but he somehow thought I meant to do tricep press-ups.

        Similarly, the English-as-a-second-language developers who tried to ‘correct’ me, their native English technical writer, because I was using a construction that they didn’t recognise.

        Not everything that looks like a mistake actually is. (Though the grammatical construction in the OP *is* definitely wrong, and something that drives me up the wall – but I still wouldn’t correct it unless it were in a client-facing communication I had oversight of)

        1. Beth**

          Ugh. This brings back memories of when I was the designated “English language editor” for a book bring written by a bunch of non-native English speakers who lived in non-English speaking countries. The contribution from the Danish authors contained a sentence that began “A teacher have to know…” I patiently changed it to “A teacher has to know…” When the next version came back, they had changed it back!

          This was in the early 2000s and I spent a lot of time explaining to the foreign authors about the non-specific singular they and how this was preferable to using “he” to refer to an unknown person.

          It was a painful process all around.

        2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          While it’s wrong in standard English, there are dialects where it is normal and acceptable, and personally I am VERY leery of telling someone that their dialect is wrong.

          1. ceiswyn*

            However, written professional communications are in standard English. If someone were writing professional communications in dialect, I would be… startled.

        3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          I might at a pinch echo their phrase back, corrected: “I see you have already run my card, thank you for reacting so promptly”, which is what I did for my children. You’re correcting without correcting, and sometimes my children would actually say “oh Mum is that how you say it? I’ve been saying it wrong for ages!”

        4. Observer*

          Though the grammatical construction in the OP *is* definitely wrong, and something that drives me up the wall

          In standard English, you are correct. But it does seem that it’s part of some regional and other dialects.

      3. Nonprofit writer*

        Ugh, this is the worst! I had it happen twice in a matter of months. The first time, I was at my local library, miserably hunched over my laptop & trying not to cry about my 17 year old cat, who had just died, as I worked on two large grant proposals that were due for my client that day (the last minute submission was the client’s fault, not mine). A random dude came over & told me I’d have better posture if I used a laptop stand like his.

        The next time was a random dude (see the theme?) who gestured urgently to me in the pool as I was stopping to catch my breath between laps. He wanted to correct my backstroke technique (I’d been swimming carefully so as not to crash into him in our shared lane).

        Fun times!

      4. Chas*

        Once, during a stressful time at work, I had a terrible night’s sleep and then realized I was out of milk when I went to have breakfast, so I (after a lot of internal swearing) decided to go to the cafe in my local Marks and Spencer (semi-high end department store with a food hall) for breakfast because I had a voucher for it and figured it’d be mostly empty so I’d get my food relatively quickly and still get to work on time-ish.

        This was definitely not the right time for the woman behind me in the cafe queue to try to tell me that I was saying “latte” the French way (lah-tay), and should be saying it the Italian way (Lat-tay) instead. I was so sleep-deprived that I couldn’t process a response and just stared at her until she got uncomfortable and looked away from me.

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          This illustrates the issue with correcting people’s grammar*–it’s a flex. No matter how “helpful” someone thinks they’re being, they’re indicating that they have more power/status/knowledge than the other person.

          *Outside of genuine work needs.

        2. londonedit*

          Oh god…the people who are pedantic about loan words in English really annoy me. It’s nothing more than stroking their own egos and making themselves feel superior. ‘Ummmmm, I think you mean *panino*!! *Panini* is already the plural!!!’ Do bugger off.

          1. Le Sigh*

            Not quite the same thing, but when I was a kid, I had recently moved to a different region of the U.S. I was lectured by two different teachers about my pronunciation of “Appalachian” — nevermind that it can be pronounced a few different ways. And no, ma’am, they’re not “your mountains” — it’s famously a pretty big range!

          2. iglwif*

            My mother does this sometimes with Italian loan words, and it makes me cringe.

            In fairness, she is in fact an Italian speaker! And some of the Anglicizations are very annoying to me too! But the server making minimum wage does not need you to tell her that it’s “broosketta” not “brooshetta”, mom. (I can’t do IPA characters in this interface, so I’m not sure how to convey the exaggerated Italian double T, y’all will just have to imagine it.) Probably 90% of her customers say “brooshetta” as well. This is not a hill to die on.

      5. Anon in Aotearoa*

        My mother gave me this message many years ago: Unsolicited advice is criticism.

        (She was a very wise woman).

    2. Thinking*

      I used to believe the grammar I was taught in school was the only correct way. Then, as an adult, these things happened (no particular order):
      A. I watched a Great Course by a linguist who taught us how language really works and develops, and it turns out to think anything is more correct than something else is probably not true for multiple reasons. Look up why we are told we can’t use a double negative, which is common in lots of other languages and also among learners of English, even native-speaking children. The reason is face palm inducing.
      B. A native English speaker told a group of friends he doesn’t correct his native Hungarian speaking wife’s grammar because he hasn’t bothered to learn Hungarian, she is perfectly well understood, and who appointed him her ‘corrector’? If she wants help, she asks and he helps.
      C. I moved to Europe. Having lived in 3 different countries now, I’ve attained A2 level in each of their official languages. And I’m dreadful at all of them. Nonetheless, I can carry on my daily life in any of them, because what matters is that I can make myself understood.
      D. Prepositions in any language are a minefield, and location specific even in my native tongue. And almost all the people I meet are speaking both the country’s language and English as non-natives. I’ve learned to say “I must” instead of “I have to” because it’s better understood, which is the point, not to be superior or teach a class.
      E. I’m aware I’ve made a couple errors in this comment. Like I’m sure some things need hyphens. But my English is degrading since I hardly ever speak to native speakers, and because the other languages’ rules mess with my brain. OTOH, my life is so much richer, friendships are sweeter, and we can all laugh at our languages together. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, though sometimes I struggle to find the words to say it!

      1. Happy*

        Can you please explain what you mean by this?

        “Look up why we are told we can’t use a double negative, which is common in lots of other languages and also among learners of English, even native-speaking children. The reason is face palm inducing.”

        I did try to google but couldn’t find any explanations other than the potential ambiguity.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I skimmed the Wikipedia page for “Double negative” and it had this to say on the history:

          In his Essay towards a practical English Grammar of 1711, James Greenwood first recorded the rule: “Two Negatives, or two Adverbs of Denying do in English affirm”.Robert Lowth stated in his grammar textbook A Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762) that “two negatives in English destroy one another, or are equivalent to an affirmative”. Grammarians have assumed that Latin was the model for Lowth and other early grammarians in prescribing against negative concord, as Latin does not feature it. Data indicates, however, that negative concord had already fallen into disuse in Standard English by the time of Lowth’s grammar, and no evidence exists that the loss was driven by prescriptivism, which was well established by the time it appeared.

          I think the “face palm inducing” reason is if Lowth “created” this rule to make English follow Latin more closely, which may or may not be what happened.

          The Wikipedia article also says that up to the 18th century, double negatives were common and standard in English. In the 18th century, they fell out of favor (whether because of Lowth’s rule or because of natural language evolution) in some dialects of English (including the “Standard English” dialect taught in schools). Double negatives are still used in some English dialects, such as Appalachian English and African American Vernacular English

      2. Le Sigh*

        There are few things as humbling as struggling to communicate in a country not your own, in a language you’re not very good at. I always knew, intellectually, that it’s challenging, but was unprepared for how much focus and brainpower I needed to make sure people understood me — nevermind all of the nuance and localisms I probably missed trying to just communicate. And that was just a few weeks. I remain forever grateful to anyone who extended me grace and patience.

      3. iglwif*

        I absolutely love and endorse this comment!

        I went through a somewhat similar journey from know-it-all baby proofreader with a brand-new BA in English Lit to experienced manuscript editor. I let go of my resistance to singular “they”. I realized how stupid the split infinitive “zombie rule” is. I came to appreciate how amazing it is that so many of my authors communicated so well in their second/third/fourth language (English) rather than being grouchy about how much editing they needed. (Although editing the English of an L1 French or Spanish speaker will always be easier for me than editing the English of an L1 Japanese or Arabic speaker.)

        The MAIN GOAL of language should always be to communicate. Whatever you do as an editor, I came to understand, should be in service of helping the author communicate better with their target audience.

        RE: your point (E), my mom has been multilingual for most of her life, and she tells me that she doesn’t trust her English spelling as much as she used to because once you’ve done enough reading in other Latin-alphabet languages, “everything starts to look like it could be right.”

    3. The Voice of Reason*

      LW1 is this woman’s customer (and it sounds like one of many), not her employer. So this is an etiquette question, not a workplace question.

      1. This is incorrect usage in standard America English, not some academic exercise about Geordie or Ebonics or whatever. People ARE judging her, and that’s OK. Not everything needs to be turned into a Social Justice Crusade.

      2. Unfortunately, I don’t think a random stranger is likely to welcome comments if this sort. Beyond that, it’s up to OP whether she wants to alienate the contractor by risking this.

      1. djx*

        “about Geordie or Ebonics or whatever….Not everything needs to be turned into a Social Justice Crusade.”

        Tell us about yourself without telling us about yourself.

      2. londonedit*

        The point people are making in mentioning different dialects is that in many cases people wanting to correct other people’s grammar are coming at it from the perspective that there is only one true and right and correct way to do it, and everything else is wrong and needs to be changed. But if you speak English using a particular dialect, then it follows that your written English – especially in an email where you probably aren’t going to be proofreading and editing your work before you send it – might also follow the rules of that dialect rather than the established Right and Proper Rules of Grammar. And in that case, does it really make a difference? Can you understand what she’s saying? If you can understand perfectly despite it not being the sentence construction you’d have chosen, does it really need pointing out?

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        One person judged her. It’s unlikely most people even noticed it.

        And we don’t know the writer was aiming for “standard American English.” I think it’s most likely she speaks one of the dialects in which it is correct and the LW was simply unaware of that.

        Anybody judging her…well, that’s really showing their misunderstanding of how language works. And again, I doubt many are.

        Even if it was a mistake, it would be bizarre to judge somebody for one barely noticeable mistake.

      4. BananaSam*

        I know it can be scary when things change, like when your dialect confers less status because people are exposed to more of them, but that doesn’t make it “social justice.”


        Let me correct that: “FORTUNATELY , I don’t think a random stranger is likely comment OF this sort”.

    4. That Crazy Cat Lady*

      I’m a bit of a grammar freak, and I used to be the person who would correct other people’s grammar all the time. I don’t do that anymore – I only focus on my own.

      I thought it was helpful to correct people like this, but it’s not. It’s rude and condescending, and potentially culturally insensitive. I am not a teacher or an interviewer or anything else where grammar would come into play, so I’ve learned that it’s just not my place to “helpfully” correct anyone.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        All this. OP1, you’re not helping them. You are demonstrating your self-assigned superiority to someone who was helping you. My mother was an English teacher and she would have yelled at me if I did this.

  4. learnedthehardway*

    OP#4 – I wouldn’t bring this up in the “tell me about yourself” part of the interview. At that point, your objective is just to introduce your background, experience, education, and overall fit with the requirements of the job.

    However, any good recruiter and / or hiring manager WILL ask why you are on the market, and your answer is perfect for that – you completed your mandate, a family obligation required your attention, and now you are ready to get back to work. You are interested in this role because x, y, z.

    That’s absolutely what you SHOULD say – when you’re asked. It’s not part of your value proposition, though, so save it until the “reviewing your career history” part of the interview.

    1. Double A*

      Yeah, I don’t think the overall answer is bad, but it’s not what I would except in response to “Tell me about yourself,” so I wonder if that’s why the interviewer looked surprised. I think one line that’s like, “I’ve been fortunate to be able to take the last year off while I’ve helped with a family situation that is now resolved” would make a lot more sense.

    2. OP4*

      This makes total sense – thank you!
      I think the surprised look (once!) was from someone who DIDN’T realize I wasn’t working currently, and I wondered if I somehow hurt myself by bringing that to her attention instead of letting her think I was still at my old (well-known) organization.

  5. Zelda*

    #1: It may help to frame this as an example of another dialect. I was brought up in a middle-class family very proud of its tradition of education, and with roots in Appalachia. Network Standard grammar was drilled into me from day one, and up until middle school, everything was framed as “This is Correct; anything else is Incorrect.” But as I became more educated myself, I learned about Network Standard being just a another dialect among many. It is the dialect of the socially powerful, but to a linguist, calling it capital-c Correct is just silly.

    If your young lady wants to walk in the halls of power, she may need to learn to code-switch. If she chooses to speak and write in the dialect she grew up with, that’s her choice about where she wants to spend her effort and where she wants to fit in.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, I always think it’s very amusing when people assume there’s a correct grammar and an incorrect grammar. There are really only schools of grammar, and grammar cultures. Also many of the mistakes and made up compositions of the moment stand a chance of catching on and becoming the way we speak in the future; at any rate it’s unlikely language will remain the exact same or ever try to be as rigid as some people will like. A lot of non standard grammar may even make more sense. In my area we use the plural you in the form of “youse” and it would annoy me greatly if teachers outside the area tried to drill this out of our students as it makes more grammatical sense and it’s their dialect. Fortunately, they tend to be better linguists than that and stick to differentiating formal vs informal.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Completely agree with this, and it’s how I wish teachers were trained! I have seen trainee teachers from Wakefield being corrected on saying “we was” though, and it made me sad! Obviously it’s important to recognise and teach written English with broadly standard grammar (there is no universally agreed written form of the language even within the UK!), but I think it’s great for kids to be taught by teachers who speak the same dialect as them and can model being proud of it.

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Yeah, teaching about code-switching and varieties of English – which is something most speakers of non-standard varieties will pick up – is more useful than trying to say that, for instance, the local plural version of “you” or the use of habitual “be” is incorrect.

      3. SimonTheGreyWarden*

        As a professional tutor and an instructor at a community college with a lot of different dialects and world Englishes used, this was always a struggle in wording. How do I tell a student, “Your voice is powerful and your language is perfect for what you are doing. You deserve for this to be listened to exactly as it is. You are going to fail this assignment because the teacher wants you to use white, University taught, Midwest English and not your dialect.” I wrestled with this a lot, and also with how to help students code-switch (being white I didn’t have the same pressures as my Black students faced, but I grew up with a different dialect than the one I work in professionally and so my spoken English is not always on the same level as my written communication).

        1. mygreendoor*

          But the OP in this case isn’t an English teacher debating the merits of teaching formal English vs. a dialectical form of English. This is a customer talking to an employee of someone else. If the employee’s company had an issue with the dialect/grammar they should be the one’s addressing it. It would be rude and, I would argue even elitist, for a customer to correct grammar during a customer interaction. The OP would get to end the call feeling superior that she “taught” the employee something while the employee has to sit there and take it because she’s on the job and has to be polite to a customer. That’s just not a cool thing to do.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Another reformed pedant here, with a linguistics degree.

      I reserve “bad grammar” for describing constructions so mangled that meaning is lost. If I can still understand what someone is saying, it’s fine.

      I am yet to encounter a less/fewer error where any confusion arose, for example. I can’t contrive a sentence where using ran as a past participle would alter the meaning one iota.

      1. Allonge*

        This. The message is perfectly understandable.

        My boss just sent out, for the second time, a ‘Safe the date’ message. Do I find it annoying that the very first word in the subject line is mis-spelled? Sure. Will it cause any issues? No. Doing my best to let it go as we speak.

        1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          I’ve finally made my peace with my manager using “in lieu of” where he really means “in light of”.

          1. Zelda*

            (Okay, those two examples are not matters of dialect, and the latter could actually cause significant confusion, because it’s just the wrong word!)

          2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            My previous manager would use “flush out” when she meant “flesh out”. (She did this in writing, too, so it wasn’t just a matter of pronunciation.) I’d change it if we were working on a document together, but would never have dreamed of correcting her verbally.

        2. AnonORama*

          We have electronic road signs that have said DRIVE SAFLY, DRIVE SALFEY and DRIVE SAFETY. They now say DRIVE SAFE. (When there’s not a traffic emergency or construction road closure. Which is rare.)

      2. bamcheeks*

        I very much enjoy less/fewer constructions where the implication is that you need a smaller mass of [whatever] rather than a smaller quantity. Of course I can’t think of any good examples off the top of my head.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          The usual example is “bacteria”, but the is-it-count-or-mass is already complicated.

          If we really cared about less/fewer, we would also need two words for “more”.

        2. Dek*

          I learned (possibly from a tumblr post) “fire ants” and “honey.”

          “I would like fewer fire ants in my pants”
          “I would like less honey in my pants”

      3. Harper the Other One*

        I love this framework! Understandability is really the point of communication after all.

      4. Swan*

        Same. I’ll only say something unsolicited if there is a risk of meaning being lost or things being implied that aren’t correct.

        Anything else I’ll only correct when specifically asked or when it’s official communication that will go to clients.

      5. Oryx*

        Same. Former grammar snob here and now I only “correct” if I am confused. Even then it’s not correcting, it is clarifying

      6. londonedit*

        Yep, I’ll admit to being a pedant in my younger days, mainly because I did an English degree and went to work in publishing, so my work has always involved a lot of proofreading etc, and I had people saying ‘Ooooh you must be SO GOOD at spelling and grammar, I’d be scared to let you see anything I’d written!!’ And when you’re young and starting out, you sort of latch on to whatever can become ‘your thing’ because you don’t have the confidence to properly know who you are yet. So for a while in my 20s I self-identified as a grammar nerd and I was probably extremely annoying.

        I never had the ‘These are the hard and fast Rules Of Grammar and anything else is WRONG’ education that other people here talk about, though – I think when I was at school the National Curriculum was in a phase of ‘teach kids the rules, but don’t stifle creativity’, so you weren’t penalised for using ‘incorrect’ grammar as long as it was understandable. I’d picked up correct grammar naturally, but I absolutely do things that real sticklers would throw their hands up in horror at – because that’s what native speakers of a language do.

        In my work, I make sure all of our books adhere to house style, and that’s something we don’t compromise on without good reason – so I’ve had quite a few discussions with authors whose idea of ‘correct grammar’ don’t quite align with our style guide. If someone asked me to proofread an email they were sending, I’d happily do that (my boss and I often email each other asking for feedback before we send something to a particularly challenging author, for example). But in general? There’s no way I’d correct anyone’s grammar unless it was a formal document, or their meaning wasn’t clear, or they’d asked me to.

        1. londonedit*

          And yep, there we go, ‘idea of correct grammar don’t…’! Obviously meant either one of ‘ideas…don’t’ or ‘idea…doesn’t’ but sometimes the fingers work faster than the brain.

        2. bamcheeks*

          Yeah, I picked up most of my ultra-correct grammar from reading and learning German, and my dad and I used to bond over pedantry. Now we bond over reverse pedantry, with him telling me about mistakes he’s encountered and me explaining that there’s no reason not to split an infinitive in English and that academic linguistics has moved on from his 1957 O level in English Usage. :D

      7. TiffIf*

        When I was taking my Linguistics courses in college I learned one important principal that has been my guiding light ever since (when it comes to grammar anyway):

        Clarity trumps everything.

    3. Grey Coder*

      100%. I too grew up with “This is Correct; anything else is Incorrect.” I can’t remember if I corrected random people, but I certainly felt smug about knowing the rules.

      Decades later, I have lived places where different dialects of English are spoken and now understand that this is just how language works. And it’s fascinating!

    4. Clisby*

      Interesting – I had never heard of Network Standard applied to grammar/dialects. I thought it was just pronunciation.

    5. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      +one million

      When people finally accept that there are multiple (not just AAVE) dialects of American English we will all live in a happier place. “Standard English” is white, upper/middle class and elitist.
      Signed, a former English teacher

    6. iglwif*

      This. There is no Académie française for English! There is no One English to Rule Them All!

      Because once you’ve used the forces of arms and trade to spread your language all over the world and make other people learn it, you no longer get to dictate how they use it. The Englishes of different regions of North America settled by different waves of English speakers from different regions of Britain at different times were different to begin with and have evolved differently since then. The Englishes of different settler-colonial states started off different from each other, for the same kinds of reasons (think about the Massachusetts Bay Colony vs Botany Bay, for example), and again have evolved in different directions since. And the Englishes of other former British colonies like India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Kenya, South Africa, etc., etc. have evolved differently again.


      1. Irish Teacher.*

        YES! I am Irish and grew up reading those old-fashioned English school stories where Irish and American kids were often punished to “get them to use correct English.” So I have a bit of a low tolerance for the one true version of English.

        My thought is very much “this language was essentially forced on my ancestors at the point of a gun. Children were beaten for speaking Irish. We’ll damn well use the form of English we want.” If they didn’t want us adapting English, speaking it with Irish-language sentence structures, etc, they shouldn’t have enforced it on us and so many other countries around the world.

  6. Pyjamas*

    *The answer might be no, it needs to be at the main office, but …*

    Ummm iirc OP requested meeting at main office. The interviewer wanted to interview at a local office close to his abode, but was NOT the local office for prospective job

  7. Ess in Tee*

    Unsolicited grammar correction out of the blue rarely results in the person being corrected thinking positively about the person who did the correcting. If it wasn’t asked for, and you’re not heading off a major misunderstanding or something potentially offensive, leave it be.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It also rarely if ever results in the stranger learning anything useful.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, being a nitpicky grammar police is waaaay worse than using a “nonstandard” but still very common phrasing. The person’s meaning was completely clear and there was absolutely no ambiguity or confusion in her phrasing. There’s no reason to tell her to change it.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Replying to myself to add:

        If you think you’re correcting her because she made a horribly embarrassing faux pas and you want to help her so other people won’t judge her, I guarantee that most people aren’t judging her for this. Being an unprompted pedant is much more embarrassing.

        1. JustaTech*

          Years ago a Facebook friend posted a job opening at her family business on her FB (and presumably elsewhere) that had some kind of really obvious grammar error. (And I am the last person to spot spelling or grammar errors in anything.)

          I thought about reaching out (privately!) to gently point it out, but I realized that there was really no way for me to do that where I wouldn’t come across as a jerk, so I let it go.

        2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          Plenty of people wouldn’t even see it/would use the construction the same way, anyway.

      2. swanjun*

        Ironically, too, letter writer #1 has a grammar error in her own letter. I’d be willing to bet Alison didn’t write her back with a correction. :)

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Ironically enough, I’ve found myself effectively correcting others by not correcting them and just modeling the right grammar and vocabulary in my own speech (inadvertently). I do my best to just actively ignore the “mistakes” and suppress my reaction… so it was a genuinely odd feeling to notice mute points becoming moot and tasks starting to come down the pike instead of the pipe.

  8. Another PM*

    OP#2: This won’t work for all offices, but if they offer any remote option, you can call in from your desk while doing other work.

    With huge meetings like that, it’s unlikely that a single missing person will be noticed (and you’ll have listened so can talk about it), and if someone sees you at your desk it’s pretty defensible to say you have a big deadline coming up.

    1. OP#2*

      regrettably, a big fuss was made about this being an IN PERSON MEETING. I probably could have gotten away with missing it but didn’t want to be the only person in my department not to attend. Funny thing is by forcing it to be in person they ended up having to have four slots of the meeting – thousands of staff. previously they have had these as online meetings but not this year :( hope they go back to hybrid for these as this was exhausting.

      1. Also-ADHD*

        Yeah I find these much more palatable in webinar form since they’re non-participatory. I actually do enjoy the company webinars and learning what’s going on in parts of the business, and I think that format works well—you can even bookmark chapters/time stamps or attach resources for people to explore later. I’ve never really seen anyone give a good explanation for making these events in person rather than webinar (post-Covid, at large orgs that have the technology, and especially if they’re distributed to multiple locations or can’t bring all employees literally together). But I think having town hall style events regularly to focus on business highlights AND putting sincere Q&As in them or having meaningful leadership Q&As can be important (you can even do Q&A better webinar though because questions can be asked anonymously more easily).

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I came here to mention Q&As. OP#2, I don’t know if your company’s town hall had a Q&A portion, but at companies I have worked at that has always been the most useful part of the town hall for me, and it can’t be replicated by email. Especially early in my career, it was interesting to hear what questions other employees had for leadership (and of course informative to hear the answers too).

          Having the meeting fall during a busy time for your team is annoying, but that’s just some bad luck. It would probably grate less if it happened to fall during a slow work period.

        2. Chas*

          Yes, I prefer the webinar format as well, especially if I’m not sure if a meeting is going to be very relevant to me or not. I work as a researcher in a University so a lot of our department’s all-staff meeting time is taken up talking about teaching and students, which I have nothing to do with, but it’s still useful to be able to have the meeting on in the background while I work so I can start paying attention when things that are relevant to me come up. But if they made the meetings in-person I’d just skip them entirely because I don’t want to spend 90 minutes listening to something that’s 80-90% irrelevant to me.

        3. Lady Danbury*

          My company does quarterly meetings across the entire entity (multinational org). I try to tune in bc there usually a mix of information that I’ve heard through other forums (reinforces what info is important to company leadership) and info that won’t trickle down to me through other means (intl subsidiary problems). Having it as a webinar actually makes it easier for me to focus than an in person meeting would be.

        4. turquoisecow*

          yeah i’m 100% remote in a company that seems to hate the concept of remote work. Pre-Covid, these meetings were held in person. I live more than an hour away. Having me drive more than an hour to sit through a meeting which, while somewhat interesting, did not pertain to my day-to-day job was the biggest waste of my time. Ours are usually short, like maybe a half hour, and while there is a section set aside for Q&A (it’s a fairly small company with less than 100 people attending), usually, no one asks questions at all.

      2. Didi*

        These meetings are meant to be like pep rallies – they’re meant to inspire and motivate people. Sometimes they can do that, but as you say, often they are just ego gratification for a bunch of out-of-touch senior execs who enjoy listening to themselves talk. They are there to remind everyone who’s in charge. They also serve to give senior execs a platform to show off and show one another up. The air is thin up there!

        Attend these meetings with the frame of mind that you’re watching this performance – instead of actually expecting to get anything useful out of it – and you’ll be OK.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I always hated pep rallies, too. Thank you for putting two and two together for me.

          (My least favorite part is when they congratulate themselves about how we’re now profitable thanks to cost-cutting, when half my team was let go in the last round of layoffs.)

      3. AnonInCanada*

        When I read your letter, that world-famous clip of Steve Ballmer, when he was still CEO at Microsoft, jumping up and down screaming nonsense at one of these meetings you’re undoubtedly being forced to attend, immediately jumped into my head. (Link in comment below to avoid this from the moderation bot.)

        “I … LOVE … THIS … COMPANY!!”

        Is this the type of thing that goes on at those mandatory “oh look at how great we are” captive audience meetings? I’d fight to not have to attend those, too! It’s a good thing I don’t work at a ginormous F-50 multinational corporations, so I don’t have to put up with this!

        1. turquoisecow*

          my old job had an executive dress up as a super hero and make videos and play pop tunes to try to get us excited about the company (which was slowly failing). And then we’d go back to our desks and our jobs where we were overworked because half the department had been laid off to try to save money.

          best part is as the corporate workers of a retail company, we had almost no control over whether the company was doing well financially or not, but they seemed to believe that if we just were a little more ENTHUSIASTIC, we’d turn the ship around. We did not.

    2. Anonym*

      Yep, I run events like this and they’re primarily virtual with the option for people at the host location to attend in person. Our audience is about 10k, 2k work at HQ, and we usually have about 150 in the room. And they’re NEVER two hours long! WTF. One hour at the most if there’s a lot to cover, and almost always 15+ minutes for Q&A, which seems to be the part attendees appreciate most since our execs are pretty good about answering everything directly.

      Demanding people sit in person for two hours (still not over that detail) is not creating the kind of engagement the organizers are seeking. Though Alison is 100% right about people not reading emails.

      1. JustaTech*

        About the not reading emails:
        During the depths of COVID WFH we got a really fancy brochure/magazine in the mail (at home) from HQ that basically covered what would have been covered in the annual meeting. Like, full color, glossy paper, giant envelope fancy.

        About 6 months later I happened to sit next to our head of HR and I asked him why it had been mailed to our homes rather than just being an email, given that it clearly cost a lot and we’d just laid a bunch of people off. He said the same thing – most people don’t open their email.

  9. learnedthehardway*

    OP#5 – I think you could ask if a first meeting would be by video – for the convenience of both of you. That would make a great deal more sense than both of you travelling to a half-way point for the interview.

    The hiring manager may, however, want to have you come to the head office to meet with other members of the team, or with their own manager (and they may not want to set that as an expectation ahead of time, but only make a decision about that during their meeting with you).

    Also, the hiring manager may simply not have the time to do the travel. It sounds odd to say it, but their work time is literally more valuable than yours, simply because of their level in the company relative to your own. The hiring manager can’t work very effectively while driving, and if their schedule is very packed, they may not be willing to make the trip.

    1. Joron Twiner*

      I wonder if “their work time is more valuable than yours” applies here, where the hiring manager is only one rung above OP, and also because this is a “hiring process”–if OP was an external candidate then no one’s time is inherently more valuable than another’s. I agree that video would be a good compromise.

    2. WellRed*

      OP wanted to meet at head office and it sounds like that’s where they’d be working etc.

      1. a trans person*

        No, I think there are two different branch offices: Branch A, where the LW would be working; Main, which is halfway in between A and B; and Branch B, which is where the manager wants to meet.

        1. AJ*

          OP here, A Trans Person has it right. I would be working at Branch A 20 minutes from home in the county I would be responsible for.

          Joron Twiner: The reason I didn’t feel the “higher rank sets the stage” applied was because the Hiring Manager regularly needs to visit my Local Office. How often? Turns out he needed to be there today (one day after they asked me to drive two hours each way) with their boss who I think may have specifically asked to join the interview and was definitely NOT going to drive to the Hiring Manager’s office as he also lives out this way. The Local Office is the central most office when you include our non continuous service areas (the Main Office is central to the continuous) so the Hiring Manager holds their team meetings here with all of their direct reports. They also presumably have other candidates all who would live much closer to my Local Office, though I did not get the impression there were other interviews today. Also, we are likely in the same pay band, though they do likely make now than I do based on their years in the Company.

          Update such as it is: The Hiring Manager moved the interview to my Local Office (I asked to meet in the middle, but I think he hates the formal Main Office more than the drive). The interview went well with grandboss as the second interviewer. I’ve interviewed with him before and he definitely likes me. Last position he found someone better qualified – no hard feelings – so it was a fairly comfortable interview as such things go. I didn’t care for their answer to my questioning the significant turn over (three people in the last six to nine months) but it opportunity is still interesting and I have enough support throughout the Company to make it work.

          The fun, unrelated twist is that it has apparently made it through the gossip grapevine that I’m looking to move in to the Operations side and two Directors have reached out about posting they have open in Ops. I’m looking at possibly having the options of two different Manager positions (one being the one I interviewed for today) and one top pay teir PM individual contributor (I am well qualified for all of the positions though by no means a shoe in.) I took a measured risk in the fall and applied to a Director position, scored an interview, and if I’m reading things right, the VP and HR Business Partner that was with may be backing me because while I was barely qualified for the Director title, they both loved the way I interviewed (thanks Allison!) and have expressed interest and support for bringing me in to the Ops department.

          Then someone invited M. Night Shayamalan to the party and the Company announced a Reorg in my current department and my Director is -predictably – being moved to cover a different state leaving the equivalent position open in my state. My boss is one of the three most likely candidates to replace him and I AM a shoe in to take my boss’ position if he becomes the Director. My boss is The Best so I’d love to stay working for him.

          So hopefully some hard decisions in my near future!

  10. Jillian*

    I also struggle internally with grammar or spelling errors made by others, but I’ve learned that if I understand intent that’s really all that matters. I make mistakes too and may or not appreciate corrections, so don’t come at me with the two spaces after the period; I’m old and that’s a hill I’m willing to die on lol.

    1. Cold and Tired*

      lol I grew up being taught to always put 2 spaces after a period, but my work has a policy of one space in formal documents. Whenever I have to submit progress reports, someone always finds the 2 spaces I accidentally leave scattered in there and corrects me. Leave me in peace in my old ways haha

      1. nnn*

        Pro tip: at the end of your proofreading process, do a search and replace to replace two spaces with one space.

        Source: two spaces was drilled into me and still lives in my fingers even after all these years, and my employer’s style guide requires one space.

        1. nona*

          Word (if that’s what you are using) also has a Proofing check for this. You can tell it to give you the red squiggly for two spaces (if you just want one) or for one space (if you want two). Or to ignore it all together.

          File ->Options->Proofing ->Grammer Settings ->Punctuation conventions -> Space between sentences.

      2. One space only*

        No, because–

        (1) a computer with a variable spaced font is not a typewriter with a monospaced font. Your training is objectively out of date.

        (2) If your report needs to be combined with other reports, it will look off.

        (3) If your report is going to layout, tour designer will need to remove all your double spaces.

        1. Colette*

          So what?

          Find/replace exists; if it bothers you, take them out. The vast majority of jobs don’t send reports to layout (?). In most cases, documentation is word files stored internally. The number of spaces after a period are not a serious issue worth getting angy about.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            The context here is a formal document at work, that has a formal style guide.

            If you don’t like apostrophes, and so use don’t and dont interchangeably, you shouldn’t do that in a formal work document that has a style guide that says to use “don’t” and not “dont.”

            1. Colette*

              Not all formal documents have style guides – in fact, I’d argue that most don’t. And there’s a significant difference betwee using “dont” and using a bit more white space.

          2. blah*

            No one said anything about getting angry. But if this is something that someone else routinely has to clean up, it’s something that should be corrected.

          3. Observer*

            Find/replace exists; if it bothers you, take them out.

            So someone should have to do extra work? This is not just about what one person who is not the person paying for the work wants.

            It’s also worth noting that this is one of the few items that one can legitimately say have an *objective* argument behind them. Because it is absolutely true that what works visually in mono-spaced fonts does not necessarily translate into proportionally-spaced fonts. Which means that you may actually be making it harder for people to read.

            In most cases, documentation is word files stored internally.

            Except that just because a file is stored internally does not mean that it does not have to adhere to various rules and standards. And when there is a style guide, for better or worse, or you are combining files it still matters because even internal users of documents should have reasonably professional looking work to deal with.

      3. Expectations*

        Speaking as an editor who constantly has to fix one person’s stubborn insistence on using two spaces, thanks for making extra work for others. We appreciate it, we didn’t have better things to do with our time.

        Seriously, my equivalent costs me an average of 2-3 hours of stressful, annoying, unnecessary work every single time we produce a newsletter or other stuff he provides content for. It’s one of the single most irritating parts of my work and he finds it amusing which makes it worse.

        Just stop and think. There’s a reason you get corrected every time. It’s not to irritate you.

        Good grief.

        1. Seashell*

          You’re scolding someone who said they left mistakes here and there after trying to follow the requested format. Do you scold people for typos too?

        2. Magpie*

          I mean…Cold and Tired said they accidentally leave two spaces scattered around their documents, not that it’s consistent so they’re trying to correct themselves, it just doesn’t always work. Why be so passive aggressive towards someone who’s at least trying to correct themselves?

          As others have stated, you can use search and replace to replace any double spaces in your newsletter with single spaces. Maybe that can save you hours of editing next time.

        3. londonedit*

          As a fellow editor, I do understand your general annoyance when people insist on dying on an outdated grammar hill ‘because that’s the way I was taught and you can pry my two spaces out of my cold, dead hands!!!!!!’. It’s tiresome. But also, as an editor, I know I can go into Word and do a find/replace and sort it out in a few seconds. Most things can be fixed that way, and it isn’t really all that onerous. It’s part of the editing process.

        4. Cold and Tired*

          Well that was an unexpectedly angry response. At my job, the person editing has no responsibility to fix it for me. They leave a comment in the document pointing it out and telling me to fix it, and I fix it myself. My mistake, my responsibility to fix. I always have other content stuff to fix (and usually some passive language that slipped through to reword too) so it makes sense that I take the time to correct it.

          Also, I promise you, it’s not done on purpose. I just have so much muscle memory that I press the space bar twice without even thinking about it. I’ve been trying to fix it for years and am fine when I’m focused on it, but when I’m focusing on the actual content of my document it’s easy to not pay enough attention and slip up. Most of us have typing skills and styles frozen in time from when we learned them. Unfortunately for me, my typing classes in the 90s taught me double space, so it’s a long road to replace that muscle memory with a single space.

        5. Artifical morning person*

          I’m curious what program you’re using that doesn’t have a find/replace function. I use two spaces after a period, and if it’s important, I can make my double spaces into single spaces in a matter of seconds.

          (Yes, I know, variable fonts. But I learned to type with two spaces, and with modern fonts the period seems to blend into the sentence it’s concluding, so I prefer having the extra space to set sentences apart visually.)

        6. Yikes On Bikes*

          Goodness, they are not typing two spaces AT you! This is a sweet, somewhat self-deprecating remark from a person who admits to their own stylistic missteps as a means of commiserating with others.

        7. JustaTech*

          Thanks for reminding everyone who hasn’t been able to re-train their muscle memory that we are literally the worst people on earth, just horrible monsters.

          Signed, a person who has literally never had anyone ever mention the number of spaces I use.

      4. PhyllisB*

        This reminds me of when I was in college before the days of widespread computer use. I was taking a speech class and we had to turn in a typed version of our speech as well as giving it orally.
        One of my classmates couldn’t type and she asked me to type her speech for her. I got permission from the professor with the firm understanding that I would not edit it in any way.
        This was also the era when paragraphs were indented five spaces. I typed her paper and she got marked off because I indented SIX spaces instead of five. Seriously? Turns out the typewriter I was using had a glitch in it and I had to get a letter from the head librian stating so before he’d change her grade. But who in the world counts indented spaces?

    2. Nonanon*

      Whenever I was a writing tutor, we would understandably get a high amount of ESL students looking to polish up their papers (often on the advice of a professor). I almost NEVER went over the nitty gritty of grammar UNLESS they requested OR I noticed an underlying theme in their writing (eg we might go over how to break up run on sentences if they had one Victor Hugo style sentence long paragraph that was difficult to read). We would go over English grammar conventions and how they could help make their writing clearer, but if there was a grammatical mistake so small it could be a typo? Let it slide.
      (Full context: my tutoring job was separate and distinct from editing, a distinction my supervisors regularly made clear; if I WERE a pure editor, those grammar corrections would look different.)

      1. JustaTech*

        I was just reviewing some internal documents on how to be the “approver” for a specific type of report and one of the instructions is that the approver is to look for factual errors (wrong lot number) and writing errors that change the meaning of the report. It *specifically* says that the approver is not to comment on writing style.
        Now, there’s not a lot of “style” in these very formulaic documents, so I know for a fact that this was directed at one of my coworkers who was constantly getting in unproductive arguments with another coworker because she didn’t like his writing style (which was fine).

        Both of these people are long gone, but their spats remain enshrined in a work instruction.

  11. Msd*

    One of the things I found frustrating as a manager was the inevitable complaint made in employee surveys was…..lack of communication. We’d then have to put plans in place to address. However, people didn’t go to all hands meetings, skipped department meeting, didn’t read weekly/status emails, didn’t go to the web page, didn’t like “here’s what other teams are doing” sessions, and so on. It was kind of frustrating.

    1. RedinSC*

      I fully understand this frustration.

      When I worked at a non profit, I’d have board members say, “We didn’t know about thing X”

      Then I’d look and they had unsubscribed themselves from our newsletter and email communications. So yeah, well, you didn’t read the bi-monthly report in the board meeting minutes and unsubscribed from all of our emails, SOOOOO, how exactly should we have made you aware of Thing X?

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Sometimes I’ll promote an event using emails, social media, printed flyers displayed on noticeboards, digital images on display screens and posts on Teams channels, plus a message to our team WhatsApp group. We don’t overdo any of these methods of communication, but we do use them all, with the awareness that not everyone will see every message on every communication channel.

        And sometimes people will STILL say that they didn’t know an event was happening. What exactly do they want me to do, beam the information directly into their brain? Come round to their house and tell them in person? Hire a town crier? Send them a carrier pigeon? I don’t know, but it can be a tad frustrating.

        1. Annie*

          I wonder how much of this is “it needs to come from someone I already trust to convey me only information relevant or interesting to me”, e.g. they’re more likely to internalize knowledge if, say a coworker or manager told them as opposed to the company event coordinator?

          Another possibility is difficulty filtering out relevant vs. irrelevant incoming information. For example, as a llama groomer, I might not be all that interested in the goings-on of the camel wranglers, but I still want to hear about and attend the camel wrangler appreciation event. Do the communication methods used lend themselves to being filtered in that way? If so, how are employees educated on how to do that?

          Also, are you sure you’re giving enough notice for events according to your company’s flow, e.g. taking into account people who have different work schedules, may be coming back from vacation right before the event happens, etc.?

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yup, we’re already doing all of those things. We start promoting our events 4-6 weeks in advance of the event date, so unless someone is out for a really long time, they should see at least one announcement.

            There are multiple digital display screens and only 8-12 slides rotating on each one. Promotions are sent out via multiple staff. We also have promo materials in areas of our building that are used by staff from other departments, such as the cafe.

            We also send around a weekly events email listing brief details of upcoming events, organised by event topic and with our events listed at the top. Oh, and we also promote our events in email newsletters that are distributed and widely read internally and externally. So, carrier pigeons it is!

          2. ecnaseener*

            I agree with your first point, people want important things to be communicated to them in a tailored way — their manager saying “here’s what’s happening at the company and here’s how it’ll affect our team,” not just the high-level version mixed in with other unrelated announcements.

            1. Allonge*

              Eh, in my experience the issue is that most people want everything communicated to them in a tailored way. Important is in the eye of the beholder, after all.

              1. ecnaseener*

                Sure, if the options for tailored ways include saying “this isn’t relevant to us, but the company is doing X” then that’s helpful!

        2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          I remember pointing out to a colleague that he would have known if he’d read the company newsletter. He said he’d only opened it once, to check whether his arrival at the company had been announced. People just ignore things because they can’t be bothered.

          I will admit to disregarding my bank’s frequent messages letting me know that some regulation has been updated. I just want access to my money!

          1. JustaTech*

            For a while we had a CEO who liked to make little videos for company updates (long before Zoom). I don’t know what exactly it was but the style of the videos drove me up the wall – somehow they were just painfully awkward to me.
            So I never watched them, and relied on my coworkers to give me the gist (it was never anything actionable or really important).

        3. Slow Gin Lizz*

          My parents live in a small town and my mom is involved somewhat with government there. People complain CONSTANTLY if there’s some important issue being discussed at town mtg or wherever that they didn’t know there was going to be a mtg about the issue, even though the town uses all various methods of communication with the public about the mtg happening. This is a universal issue, as far as I can tell.

    2. Managing While Female*

      Yes. This comes up SO OFTEN where I work. I tell them in emails, meetings, everything, and it’s like some people do everything they can to NOT hear the message.

      It reminds me of the episode of Brooklyn 99 where two of the cops are sitting in the empty precinct bragging about how no one wants to work anymore and they’re the only ones doing anything, when another comes in in a hazmat suit and yells “IDIOTS! The building is being fumigated today! THERE WERE SO MANY EMAILS!!”

    3. mlem*

      My company’s staff regularly complain about lack of communication.

      We’ve gotten, in response, all-hands newsletters summarizing information we already have and talking up how great our product is. We also get all-hands meetings talking up sales targets, recent sales, how we’re doing great as a company, and how salaries clearly have to be restricted because we’re facing challenges as a company. (Fortunately, we tend to have remote options, so our eye-rolling and disgust at the combination of those latter two points are at least not disruptive.)

      What we *wanted* was better clarity about draconian policies and, preferably, for the C-suite to listen to our feedback and change course. “Look how awesome this institutional product literally none of you ever could or would purchase is!” does nothing to improve the communication we asked for.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yep. Every year in employee surveys, we complain about a lack of communication, and in response they communicate about about stuff we don’t care about and not the stuff that affects us. Explaining the kinds of things we actually want communication about changes nothing.

        1. Other Alice*

          Yeah, I’ve recently been added to a bunch of newsletters that I don’t care about. I don’t want *more* communication, I want clear communication of changes that will affect me and my unit. Getting more newsletters and email blasts just makes it harder to parse all the information.

          Then people get upset that I missed some key information and tell me it was in the past two newsletters and it was important. Sure, but it was buried between info about the gym at the North American office (am not in NA) and changes to commissions for Sales (am not in Sales).

          The manager of our unit does a great job of keeping us up to date at our biweekly meetings, but he puts in a lot of extra effort.

          1. Lady Danbury*

            Sounds like my workplace! We’re an offshore subsidiary with different systems, processes, etc., so 90% of the parent company newsletters don’t apply to us. I skim those and focus on the newsletters from my own company. That’s why I like attending the quarterly webinars from the parent company, bc they focus on the big picture topics/issues/changes that matter to company leadership and not the minutiae of that SAP change that doesn’t apply to me anyway.

      2. JustKnope*

        I don’t know if you actually want clarity about draconian policies or if you just wanted them to be changed. As someone who worked in internal comms for a long time, people often ask for something that’s different than what they *actually* want.

      3. mcm*

        Yeah, more communication doesn’t typically mean, more all-staff meetings where we hype up how great it is to work here, exciting sales, and then also no raises but don’t you just love it here. More communication typically means explaining things like, if sales are going so well, why can’t we have raises? Or conversations about frustrations, not just, “you shouldn’t be frustrated! Look how great things are!” In my experience, these type of hype meetings are not really meeting the type of communication need people are complaining about.

    4. kiki*

      I get frustrated by this too! I think I’ve identified the two major contributors to folks feeling out of the loop while actively unsubscribing from info channels

      1) There’s too much info and it’s mostly not relevant to that individual. If somebody has to sort through a page of irrelevant info to get to one nugget that’s useful, they’re going to stop reading.

      2) If they used to work in-person and have moved remote, they might be used to passively absorbing information from being in person and overhearing people talking about things. It can take a beat for somebody to realize that will no longer work for them.

      What I found works— making sure managers are communicating directly to their reports the most essential pieces of info, either in a 1:1 or with a targeted message over whichever channel employees actually read.

    5. Anon for this one*

      We put “lack of communication” for two reasons:

      It’s safe. We know leadership loves to hear themselves talk, and we also know those ‘anonymous’ surveys aren’t.

      The communication we GET isn’t the communication we WANT. We want to know what’s going to be happening next month and next year. What we get is a lot of bloviating about how great everything is right now.

      (This refers purely to the all-hands company-wide meetings under discussion, not normal things like team meetings and status emails.)

    6. Chaos is my nesting material*

      I can’t speak for your employees but when I put that in employee surveys I’m talking about quality of communication rather then quantity. Basically I don’t feel I have the information I need to do my work well and things like all hands and department meetings don’t really help with that. I spent a week designing a new teapot only to find out that two weeks ago the customer changed their mind and they don’t want a spout on their teapot anymore. This change may or may not be documented in one of 5 places on the company servers some of which I don’t have access to. Or I am uncertain about how to deal with an issue like conflicting policies or unusual situations and rather than receive clear and actionable advice I get vague statements that painfully go out of the way to avoid anything might look like responsibility. I had one project manager refuse to disclose and/or lie about the due dates for projects and when assigning multiple projects refuse indicate which one was the higher priority. This resulting one be done 3 months early and the one being late by 2 months. Or 1:1 meetings where the manager never comes with feedback and doesn’t write down your feedback. Its not the big picture I’m looking for, it is the day to day information that allows me to make good decisions and work efficiently.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      In my experience the venn diagram of the info people want when they request more or better communication and the info presented in all staff meetings, department meetings or weekly status emails is two circles.

  12. Flowers are Beautiful*

    LW 2, we had an event like that last fall and it was great! It was open to everyone and we don’t have all female staff, and several guys did it. You said it was “part” of staff appreciation week and was opt in, did others complain?

    1. RedinSC*

      I was thinking as far as staff appreciation goes, this sounds like a nice activity.

      So, it’s just a matter of YMMV, right?

    2. Orv*

      This reminds ne that my manager once gave everyone in the department flowers except me, “for obvious reasons.” (I was the only male-presenting staff member.) I couldn’t help but feel slighted.

      1. Helvetica*

        I will give flowers to everyone and I have come across so many men being positively surprised but also delighted. Flowers should not be gendered! Everyone who wants pretty blossoms should be able to enjoy them.

    3. Pam Adams*

      My university campus has multiple activities for staff appreciation week, m as king it easy to choose the ones you want to attend, or just use them as an excuse to get away from your desk for an hour.

      1. CityMouse*

        This is where I land. Shoving everyone into one thing doesn’t feel like appreciation, it feels like you’ve been given a task.

    4. Anonymous Again*

      Some people just look for something to complain about. The activity was obviously voluntary as LW opted out with no apparent repercussions. Maybe she should focus on hiring a few males to join their all female staff and see what the company comes up with next year.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        OP is support staff so may have little authority over hiring.

        Its not just looking to complain. You have all women support staff and the Powers That Be come up with flower arranging as an appreciation event. As Alison said that reads very gender coded. I had the same reaction as OP upon reading the letter.

        1. Bast*

          Other than actually giving time off/money instead, what’s the best solution though, if this company is committed to doing “team building?” There is no activity that is going to please everyone. For all we know, this was suggested by a well meaning staff member who found it interesting and thought others might as well, and management thought, what the heck. Maybe if they have a history of only doing “stereotypically female” activities it’s more of a “problem” but there is NOTHING that is going to please every single person on a team.

      2. Dek*

        Just because an activity is voluntary doesn’t mean it’s all good, especially if it was the only thing on offer.

        I would feel a little unappreciated if that was the Staff Appreciation offer.

      3. JB (not in Houston)*

        Wow, this is unnecessarily hostile and not at all helpful or actionable for the OP.

    5. FlowerOP*

      I really only interact with one support person in the office, and she only attended because it would have stood out if she didn’t. They also had a lunch as well the following day.

    6. theletter*

      I’m on the camp of letting ourselves enjoy gender-coded-that-didn’t-need-to-be-gender-coded activities, especially for previously looked-over activities gender-coded for women. Those activities have great value and can be very fun!

    7. sara*

      We also had a similar flower-focused event like this at an employee appreciation event last year. We’re pretty gender balanced so it didn’t strike me as having a gendered component at the time. I can see how it does in your context – but I also think if those who chose to participate genuinely enjoyed it, it’s ok.

      Now if every single aspect of the appreciation week were gender-coded in the same direction (Monday is flower arranging, Tuesday is cookie decorating, Wednesday we’ll have a workshop on motherhood, Thursday is Mary’s Tupperware party, Friday is a lipstick giveaway) I would see an issue. But if this is one of various ways staff are appreciated and some people like it, it feels fine.

  13. Fikly*

    Big meetings like that aren’t about conveying information, they’re about brainwashing the employees into thinking things are great and making the execs/csuite feel great about themselves as they look down upon the peons.

    And if you don’t think they are extremely successful at brainwashing employees, think again: most employees think ERGs are harmless at worst, and believe their employer about all kinds of things, like promised raises, promotions, how things are going, internal DEI efforts, the list goes on. All of this is reinforced with group brainwashing sessions and propaganda, which is exactly what these big meetings are.

    Not only can you not avoid the information the way you can by ignoring an email, but by doing it in a group setting, it gets reinforced.

    1. a trans person*

      “ERGs are harmful” feels like a hell of a dogwhistle to me (and I’ve been in some shitty ones). I don’t know what conspiracy you mean to be advancing, but I’d rather you advance it in another direction away from here.

  14. linger*

    have+preterite form for past perfect (e.g. have ran for have run) is a very common error for advanced non-native users of English.
    One reason it is so common is that the meaning is absolutely clear, and so there is no further communicative need for change, and so the learner’s grammar fossilizes at that point. Which means that correcting it serves no useful purpose for that user. *shrug*

    1. Myrin*

      I’m surprised to hear that because I am a non-native speaker of English and the way the past participle works was absolutely drilled into us at age 12 (yes, I remember that exactly); I’m sure I had classmates who used the wrong form but those were the ones who had problems with English/languages anyway. The generally strong speakers? Absolutely not.

      But I honestly think in the OP’s case, it has more to do with “ran” and “run” sounding very similar so especially a native speaker with no particular interest in grammar – and who, as such, never had to actively learn this – can very easily make that mistake. (It’s the same thing with the dreadful “I could of” instead of “I could have”. I absolutely hate and despise it because it makes zero goddamn sense if you think about it for five seconds but it’s something I see mostly native speakers get wrong because they just hear “could’ve” and think the “ve” must be an “of”.)

      Now, don’t get me started an a streamer I watch who regularly says “I should have went”. It’s possible it’s just a regional variant from where he’s from but it makes me want to tear my ears out for some reason.

      1. londonedit*

        In London and the south-east I notice a fair number of people who write ‘we’re’ instead of ‘we’ll’ (as in ‘we’re be uploading the files next week’) and I’m convinced that’s because in a London/south-east England accent there isn’t much difference in pronunciation between the two. Same as ‘could of’ – there isn’t much difference in the way that and ‘could’ve’ sound.

        Where I grew up, constructions like ‘where’s it to?’ are completely normal (‘where’s she living to these days?’ and ‘where’s your office to?’ would be totally unremarkable, for example) and people often use ‘led’ instead of ‘lying’ (as in ‘I was led in bed and all of a sudden the dog starts barking…’ – none of that is technically ‘correct’ grammar but it’s widely used).

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        I’m not sure where you are, but in the Midwest could of is just how you pronounce could’ve. We also sometimes drop final consonants so it could be pronounced coulda’.

        Are you say people are writing could of instead of could’ve? I can see where that’s annoying. I’m also deeply curious where you are at that run and ran sound similar.

        1. amoeba*

          Yes, I’ve seen that quite a bit, from people who are generally really good writers as well! But only ever from native speakers, I do feel that that’s one of the mistakes you’re much less likely to make when you’re learning English as a second language. Like, all the things with similar pronunciation, basically. Probably has to do with whether you first learn a language by listening/speaking/immersion (as a child) or directly start with grammar exercises and writing?

          1. DyneinWalking*

            Yes, that’s it exactly. Mistakes like “could of” or confusing it’s/its and their/there are the sure sign of someone who learned English primarily by listening – i.e. a native speaker or at least someone who learned the language informally by immersion.
            For people who learned English at school these are grammar rules they learned waaaaay before they knew words like “sausage” or “plant”.
            If they are advanced enough in English to hold a conversation, they are very unlikely to confuse their/there and they would never write “could of” because when you’ve learned the language with written examples of grammar rules from the get-go, you never even begin to get confused about “of” and “‘ve” In fact, you need to be an advanced non-native speaker to know that this is a mistake that’s even possible to make.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yes, I also often pronounce “could’ve”/”could have” to sound like “could of” and it’s very common in the area where I live. But run and ran don’t sound similar to me, so it’s hard for to imagine that being the reason someone would mix them up. But I’m not an expert in linguistics so, so maybe in some places they are pronounced in a similar way.

          1. nona*

            There are areas of the US where bag and beg sound the same. Where pin and pen sound the same. Where Earl and Oil sound the same (that’s more about the “r” than the vowel, tho…).

            I absolutely believe there’s a world where the vowel shift from run to ran exists. I can’t hear it in my head, but we do enough other weird stuff to the pronunciation of English that its not a big leap for me.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Yeah, I am familiar with the examples you gave, but I don’t know of anywhere where ran and run sound the same. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I have never heard anyone pronounce those two words the same or heard of regions where it’s common.

          2. Allonge*

            I don’t think it’s necessarily because they sound similar – for me it takes a moment because:

            1. what u and a sound like and how they are different in my first language is completely different from the English in run and ran, so the visual of the letters is not an immediate help

            2. once upon a time I had to memorise ‘run, ran, run’ as one of the hundreds of exceptions from the normal ‘-ed, -ed’ suffixes for pasts and the perfects – it’s not part of my DNA. Memory being imperfect, this is something I still need to consciously think of to get right – which I may not be doing for a random email

            3. there is one letter of difference. It’s 33% of the whole word of course, but still, one letter, and the one most likely to be overlooked (not the beginning, not the end)

      3. DyneinWalking*

        Yeah, I’m also surprised to hear that. You learn the past tenses in school fairly early and “to run” is one if the most basic words. I wouldn’t categorize this as the mistake of an advanced non-native speaker – if the speaker is non-native, they are either not advanced, never learned the language in a school setting, or re-learned the language long after forgetting nearly all of their English lessons.
        I find it far more likely that this is just the speaker’s dialect or that for some reason or other they never noticed the difference between “ran” and “run”.

      4. TiffIf*

        (It’s the same thing with the dreadful “I could of” instead of “I could have”. I absolutely hate and despise it because it makes zero goddamn sense if you think about it for five seconds but it’s something I see mostly native speakers get wrong because they just hear “could’ve” and think the “ve” must be an “of”.)

        Yeah this is my biggest pet peeve. I don’t go correcting people on it but….it grates on me.

      5. PhyllisB*

        My personal gripe is people saying “I seen.” Like nails on a chalkboard. But living in the Deep South I’ve had to learn to tolerate it. Especially since so many of my relatives say it.

      6. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        But this is an exception to the normal rule that you learned!

        Usually you’d use the past tense in the past participle – I have baked a cake, I have locked the door. In the case of “have run”, not only is the verb itself irregular but the past participle uses the present tense – *”have ran” would follow the normal pattern.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I don’t know where LW is, but it’s also completely normal spoken English in Yorkshire and a lot of northern England. “I’ve ate”, “I’ve drank” etc are all perfectly normal constructions to me. I do notice them sometimes in informal written communications (and I’d correct them if I was editing something more formal) but in speech they’re completely unmarked.

    3. linger*

      This is in writing, so the pronunciation doesn’t matter; but also, there aren’t many verbs in English for which the preterite and past-participle forms are distinct in speech or writing (cf. walked~have walked, said~have said), which means have is a sufficient marker of perfect aspect regardless of the verb form, and keeping the small number of different forms distinct does not matter functionally. (should have went falls into the same category: the modal and auxiliary are sufficient markers of the intended function, and the exact verb form for go doesn’t add any information. As should be evident from the fact that go does not have its own participle form, and borrowed one from wend.)
      ‘ve=of, by contrast, is entirely a pronunciation-based merger, which marks users who listen far more often than they read. (Which does describe many native speakers!)
      There is some regional variation in modal use falling within the ambit of native speaker grammar. Appalachian English famously is one of several dialects allowing double modal constructions (He might could do that).

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      I work with a bunch of highly educated people (chemists and biologists) and I constantly hear/read “the samples were ran”. It’s technically incorrect, but the meaning comes through loud and clear, and I’ve never corrected it.

      Instead, I’ve learned to let it not rustle my jimmies as much. (But I do let it bug me a little, so that I will still catch it when it is my job to catch it in some of the technical writing/editing I get to do.)

      1. AFac*

        Just as there are dialects and code switching in language in general, formal scientific writing is also it’s own style that student have to learn. It frustrates students and scientists from non-English-speaking countries because there are some specific terms that have specific meanings that don’t match usage in ‘standard’ English, and sentences that are correct in ‘standard’ English might be considered incorrect in formal science writing.

        At this point, the ‘samples were ran’ is such a ubiquitous part of formal scientific writing it’s basically now a grammar rule for that style. I think it originated from considering the use of first-person (singular or plural) sentences as too informal. Therefore ‘we ran the samples’ is not favored, resulting in weird third-person-passive voice constructions such as ‘the samples were ran’ or ‘the gauge was placed’.

        1. Nocturna*

          I think Peanut Hamper was referring to the fact that the correct grammar is “the samples were run”, not the fact that the sentence is in passive voice.

          1. Peanut Hamper*

            Yes, very much this. Passive voice is de rigeur in my field (unfortunately) and that’s not an issue. But preterit vs participle is still an issue.

  15. ccsquared*

    Yeah, I think LW1 means well, but they need to examine their biases a little here. Etiquette usually encourages pointing out spinach because it’s easy to fix and the person will likely be more embarrassed later than in the moment, but not something like a birthmark on the face that can’t be addressed instantly or at all and calling attention to it could be embarrassing. With grammar, you don’t really know which situation you’re in, but my hunch is it’s the latter more often than the former, especially if the service worker is a non-native speaker or grew up speaking a dialect where this construction is commonly used.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I think correcting someone on something they chose to say/do is also just different from pointing out spinach in their teeth. There’s no implied “you’re Wrong for having spinach in your teeth” message.

      1. Paint N Drip*

        I second this. ‘Spinach in teeth’ is both fixable and not a fault of the individual, where grammar correction DOES have an implication of undereducated/rural/dumb/etc. even if that isn’t the intention

        1. ccsquared*

          Yep, this is the other thing that bothered me about LW’s analogy. There’s the assumption that they have some sort of insight, knowledge, culture, etc. that they can impart on this person and feel comfortable doing so because of a perceived power differential. The fact they felt enough discomfort to write in is a good start, but it would be really good to examine what they’ve internalized around language and culture that’s behind the impulse to correct.

  16. Martin Blackwood*

    #1 I can hear something off about “I have ran”, but it disappears with “I’ve ran”. Language is weird. If someone corrected me on this… not sure if it would register as a Big Enough Thing to want to correct, honestly.

      1. sparkle emoji*

        I don’t think the point is that “I’ve ran” is correct, just that it sounds close enough to correct that it doesn’t register for Martin, because technically wrong phrasing can still sound close enough to be fine in informal settings.

    1. amoeba*

      I mean, I’d definitely correct it if I were proofreading/editing a text. It probably wouldn’t even register in an e-mail, because I work with so many non-native speakers (including myself) whose English is all over the place. But we all understand each other and that’s what count’s for stuff like e-mail.

    2. musical chairs*

      I had the same thought! I wonder if it’s because it sounds closer to “I ran”?.

  17. Lisa*

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been on teams that have done flower arranging team activities across two different companies, and both teams were roughly 50% male. I didn’t hear anyone complain; it didn’t even occur to me that this could be viewed as a gendered activity

    1. TX_TRUCKER*

      Same here. And my industry definitely skews male. I thought it was an odd choice, but every team building activity I have participated in has been strange to some folks.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      I’m a straight dude who loves flowers and would like an event like this. But I can definitely see how it would be perceived as gendered, especially since it was offered to a single-gendered team.

    3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      This was my thought, too. My team of 10 is more than 50% men and all but one of them would 100% enjoy flower arranging.

    4. Nomic*

      Gay guy here… I would really enjoy this, or the painting classes you see occasionally. I would worry a bit it’s too gendered, but if most people are enjoying it, then the team is building. No one is going to enjoy every teambuilding exercise (I tend to hate most of them).

    5. BlueIris*

      Agreed. Most people out there don’t know that some of the world’s most famous and successful floral arrangers/artists are men. Most of the floral wholesale industry is made up of men. Men appreciate flowers, so many men garden, why does this have to be construed as a female-leaning event? Very odd.

  18. Naerose*

    Just out of curiosity – what AC/DC tracks do execs favour? I mean, my first thoughts were Jailbreak and Highway to Hell, but I’m not sure they would suit most Fortune 500s (or maybe they would).

    1. Antilles*

      TNT and Thunderstruck are pretty popular, because they’ve both got very strong lead-ins at the very start of the song.
      Remember that usually, they’re not sitting there playing the entire song, it’s usually like the first 30-60 seconds to get a bit of energy in the room. So the lyrics aren’t really that relevant.

      1. mlem*

        And no one ever pays attention to the lyrics anyway, as we’ve seen from any number of political campaigns using, say, “Born in the U.S.A.”

        1. Pippa K*

          Ha, didn’t see this before I posted, but exactly. Also the first line to ‘Fortunate Son’.

      2. Pippa K*

        Politicians and others like to do this kind of thing, too, sometimes with amusing results for those who do know the lyrics.

        The opening ceremonies for the London Olympics in 2012 had an intro featuring a bird’s eye view on a journey down the Thames. They played brief snatches of songs representing the UK – including the first line of the iconic Sex Pistols ‘God Save the Queen.’ The second line of which, of course, is ‘the fascist regime’ :-)

    2. AnonInCanada*

      How about “You Shook Me All Night Long,” along with “Hells Bells,” and a couple already mentioned here: “Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)” and “’74 Jailbreak?”

      And “Thunderstruck.” That’s an absolute classic.

      1. AnonInCanada*

        Thank you, YouTube Music playlist, for making me remember the AC/DC song best suited for these corporate propaganda/mandatory pep talk mass meetings:


      2. fhqwhgads*

        A CEO entering to Hells Bells would make me think said CEO thinks they’re Trevor Hoffman.
        Which…I guess might be the point…a closer…hmm…

  19. PepperVL*

    Maybe this is because I have ADHD and was unmedicated at the time, but I spent 8 years at a company that has those big meetings every year (pretentiously called The State of the Business Meeting), and I retained exactly none of what was said. I honestly would have absorbed more information from the preview bit on an email than I took from those meetings. To me, those meetings meant I spent 2-3 hours either freezing or sweltering and trying to keep my eyes open while my mind wandered all over the place and then I got to go home early but still get paid until the regular end of my day.

    My first year I genuinely tried to pay attentiom and failed miserably. I didn’t even try after that.

    1. Michigander*

      Yeah, I was going to say: Maybe half the people wouldn’t read the email communications, but honestly there’s a decent chance that half of the audience of these big meetings zones right out and has no idea what is talked about. For me the best option for something company-wide is optional Zoom/Teams meeting for those who want to listen and participate with a summary circulated by email afterwards for those who want to read.

        1. bamcheeks*

          We had a few of these meetings at a time when morale was particularly low in my team and I discovered that no matter what I thought management was saying, my team was hearing, “And here’s why your jobs are at risk.”

          “we’ve got a great new opportunity to expand into this area of business”
          “so i guess that means they’re going to close our area of the business”

          “profits have been great so we’re going to invest in some new real estate”
          “great, that means that when profits aren’t so good, we’ll get laid off because there’s no surplus”

          “you’ve all done fantastic work and we’re really pleased with how things are going”
          “this is clearly the precursor to a re-structure”

          1. RVA Cat*

            They’re not wrong, even if it’s not their number coming up in Restructuring Roulette.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I mean — they were factually wrong because it wasn’t the precursor to a re-structure, they didn’t close that area of business, and they haven’t been laid off. But obviously in terms of low morale and lack of trust in management it was something to take very seriously.

          2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            We had one a week or two after a round of layoffs. If they’d taken a more realistic approach, it could’ve been an opportunity to discuss long-term strategy and reassure people. Instead it was “look at all the money we’re making, and all the money we expect to make next quarter!”. Absolutely infuriating. It may have been intended as reassurance, but it’s effect was the opposite.

          3. mlem*

            Folks at my company would have very good reason to interpret “profits have been great so we’re going to invest in some new real estate” as “oh, joy, I’m going to be force-reassigned to a new building with double the commute”.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      This. The tell that these aren’t really about communication is that whatever actual content there might be is buried in all the “corporate fluff” (an excellent turn of phrase). Were they serious about conveying content they would do it clearly and concisely. Were they really serious about conveying content they would also put it a clear and concise email, for people who absorb information better that way. As soon as they bring in Rah! Rah! and mandatory fun elements, they have abandoned conveying content in favor of something else.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      When we had a similar meeting they used to email out the salient points right afterwards and I was amazed at how many pertinent and interesting things I missed in person after my brain had left the building. So my ADHD self really appreciated that post-summary bulletin. Then, they stopped sending them out because “everyone heard it and no one reads those things”.

    4. Grenelda Thurber*

      I call these meetings pep rallies and have always seen them as a chance for the C-suite to tell everyone all about what their jobs are and what they think about all day (I’m sure anything controversial is edited out). I find them about as interesting as the C-suite would find a presentation given by me about what I do all day. I’m a remote worker now, so no one expects me to show up in person. I can put on my headphones and listen to the webcast for anything I might catch my interest while I go on with my day. Occasionally, just for grins, I count the number of times someone says they’re “excited.” It appears to be a common emotion during these all-team meetings.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I do that kind of thing too, counting the number of times someone says something (it used to be “you guys” for a particular coworker I don’t like, but no joke, she says it every two minutes so counting isn’t even helpful to get me to pay attention). And I agree with you that they’re really more for the C-suite to say the things they think need saying. After being officially diagnosed with ADHD last fall I started knitting during our occasional in-person staff mtgs (no one ever gave me a hard time about it but it’s definitely an accommodation and I pay attention so much better when I knit). But honestly, they’re such a giant waste of time for me because I don’t need to know whatever visions and grand plans the C-suite has for our org, I just need to be sure information is being recorded in our DB correctly. And when I tried at our last mtg to ask the C-suite (and others) what kinds of things they want to be able to track in the DB so that I could be sure and record that kind of info correctly, they had no idea. So even my own small participation moment was a giant waste of time for me.

        (As I keep mentioning in my other comments…why, yes, I did just find a new job, thanks for asking. Mostly our in-person mtgs have been near my home so I didn’t have to travel far but as soon as they mentioned that our next one would be halfway across the country from me I was like, oh heck no, I refuse to fly anywhere for yet another mtg that’s a total waste of time for me. So I started looking and I’m out!)

    5. Laura*

      I think this is really common. I don’t have ADHD and have trouble paying attention in these types of meetings. Mostly because in the past about 90% had absolutely no bearing on my job.

      1. A Significant Tree*

        Definitely common. I’ve sat through a number of these during good company times and bad, and they all remained the same content-free rah-rah speeches. There might have been one time ever that a CEO/VP gave a straightforward answer to a tough question, but usually what you got were (paraphrasing) “I hear you and that’s an important question. Moving on…” Then again, almost all the Q&A Q’s I ever heard were selected because they were total softball questions. So, nothing informative to pay attention to or remember later.

    6. JustaTech*

      The things I remember from those big meetings are 100% not the things anyone wanted me to remember.
      The time a new CEO could not pronounce the name of the company or the sales name of the product. (No one expects anyone to be able to pronounce modern technical drug names without coaching, but the advertised name? Come on.)
      The time a coworker asked the CEO about retention and he talked about the sales team, so she got back up and said “what about [New Competitor] who has poached half the R&D team?” and the CEO was like “huh?”. Glad to know you’re paying attention, dude.
      The time (another) new CEO said that this would be the only time he ever spoke to us (right after an acquisition).

  20. anonymouse*

    LW #1 – another important note here is that in some dialects of English, “I have ran” would in fact be correct—and, while I understand it’s correct in your dialect, it’s really not your place to decide that your dialect is the only right way to speak. Plus, while I think that correcting anyone on such a small matter would be an overstep outside of situations where you have formal authority to do so, if this woman is part of any kind of cultural group you’re not in, correcting her grammar on this could come across as particularly rude (e.g. as someone from the southern US who has faced a lot of patronizing classism from people in the northern US due to the way my family and I speak, someone from up north “correcting” my grammar—especially if the thing I said was perfectly correct in my dialect—feels pretty awful).

    Additionally, speaking here as a professional writer whose entire career revolves around written and verbal communication: the entire idea of “correct” grammar is based in racism and classism, and I truly wish we’d do away with it entirely. When someone says something using proper grammar for their dialect and you tell them they need to follow your dialect’s grammar instead, that’s inherently stating that you view your dialect as “right” and theirs as “wrong”. This presents a huge issue in the professional world, where people who speak a dialect different from the majority of their company/field (e.g. a Black person in a majority-white field, a southerner at a company based in Portland, etc) will be viewed as “unprofessional” and barred from advancement unless they force themselves to change the way they naturally speak… even though there’s nothing objectively wrong with their method of speaking.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      Just as an aside and an example, in Ireland, we would often say this as “I’m after running your credit card….” It’s a direct translation from Irish and probably seems completely wrong and awkwardly phrased to people from other English speaking countries, but here it’s…not exactly formal but pretty common phrasing.

      1. anonymouse*

        Thank you for providing a non-US example! That’s really cool. I’ve actually just started on the path to learning Gaeilge, and the grammar seems really interesting from what I’ve seen so far :)

      2. American in Dublin*

        I’m on a American’s in Ireland group and there was on complaint of “why can’t the Irish speak proper English?” The answer was basically that the “weird” constructs are often Irish translations and grammar using English words. They’re constructs I don’t use, but I recognize them as correct (and, no, I’m never giving up my Zs) for the local language.

        I think that’s more common in Europe. There are very distinct ways of speaking English depending on the country you’re in. I once commented to my SO that the Dutch, for instance, pause in consistent but different spots from where the English pause and it’s a very distinctive cadence to their speech.

        1. londonedit*

          Yep. I’m doing a lesser-spoken European language on Duolingo and in that language you’d construct a sentence along the lines of ‘In the forest walks a man’. While that isn’t grammatically incorrect in English, it sounds stilted and we’d say ‘A man is walking in the forest’ or ‘There’s a man walking in the forest’. But I wouldn’t be surprised if native speakers of that language defaulted to using ‘In the forest walks a man’ when speaking English, because that’s the construction that makes the most immediate sense to them.

      3. Tradd*

        There was a recent article that talked about how Spanish in Miami is directly affecting English speakers. It was fascinating. There are Spanish phrases that are translated directly into English use that preserve the Spanish phrasing and word order, but look strange in English.

        1. honeygrim*

          I lived in Miami for over a decade, and as a native English speaker who took Spanish in high school and college, I struggled to improve my listening and speaking of Spanish, because there are so many different dialects of Spanish represented in the city that it was hard for me to get any consistent idea of what was being said. None of the different dialects were wrong or right, they were just different.

          Like you, I was fascinated by the impact of those various dialects on how Spanish speakers from different countries used English. I had a colleague who would say “passing that” to mean “aside from that.” It took me hearing her say that a few times before I understood what she meant, but I never corrected her because I did understand.

      4. ClaireW*

        Hah I hadn’t really thought about it until reading this comment but yes, I’m in Northern Ireland and I use “I’m just after trying that” or “I’m just after messaging her” all the time and have never thought about how weird it might seem to non-local folks.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I don’t think it occurred to me until I was doing a course about teaching kids who are not native English speakers and they talked about how some of our constructions are different from what they would have learnt had they studied English in their native countries.

          The other one that occurred to me is “safe home” which is a fun play on words in Irish but…doesn’t make much literal sense in English (as a way of wishing somebody “goodbye”).

          1. londonedit*

            I’ve heard ‘safe home’ a fair bit from fellow English people – I didn’t know it was a play on words in Irish, I just assumed it was a shortening of ‘hope you get safely home’.

            Where I grew up ‘where’s it to’ is perfectly standard, as in ‘where’s your new office to, then?’, which as far as I know is very particular to that region.

            1. doreen*

              That’s what I assumed when I started hearing it in the US , that it was a shortening of “get home safe” or something similar.

            2. EmF*

              “Where’s it to” is a fairly common construction in Newfoundland, as well. The stereotype phrase is “stay where you’re at ’till I comes where you’re to.”

            3. fhqwhgads*

              I always thought it was just dropping the “trip”, as in safe (trip) home.
              Didn’t know I was missing out on wordplay!

              1. Irish Teacher.*

                Honestly, I don’t know the background for sure, so could be wrong, but in Irish, the words for “safe” and “goodbye” are the same, so “slán abhaile” which means “safe home” in place of just “slán,” for “goodbye” sounds sort of like “goodbye and have a safe trip”.

      5. Lady Danbury*

        I’m from a Caribbean island that’s also a British territory, so our English has British, Irish, American and Caribbean influences. During my freshman year of university in the US, I asked one of my classmates “How did you find the exam?” They gave me a confused look and told me that they found the classroom the same way they walked there for the entire semester. That’s how I learned that “how did you find x?” was not a common way of asking someone about their experience with x in the US.

        1. footiepjs*

          While it may not be common, it’s usually understandable to people from the US. I’ve used that phrasing before. I’ve also been misunderstood using it, so I take your point. Have I countered your point or supported it? Who knows.

        2. Two-Faced Big-Haired Food Critic*

          “How did you find your steak?”

          “I looked under a mushroom and there it was.”

        3. fhqwhgads*

          Some expressions are totally idiomatic but you’ll still occasionally bump into someone who takes it literally.

  21. Jordan*

    I actually am an English teacher (for speakers of other languages) and one of the things we learn in training is what to correct and not correct.
    If it is the lesson we are currently learning or something we’ve done recently- I point it out. If it’s not what we are actively studying, let it go.
    If it makes you feel better, language learners Will and Do ask teachers about things they want to say and sound “correct” in their everyday lives.

    1. PotsPansTeapots*

      Yep, this was my strategy in my previous life as an ESL teacher. The goal of language is to be understood and even native speakers make the occasional grammatical error.

  22. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 Hell no. That kind of unsolicited help is deeply insulting and irritating.
    Staffing an event for you does not make them your minor child or English teacher.

    #4 It might sound off-key if an interviewee raises a work gap, especially something under a year. You may unconsciously sound defensive about it.
    I suggest you stop mentioning any gap unless asked and instead use that time to provide more information that would be useful to them.
    It may have been slightly negative for you simply because it was wasting the limited interview time on something that didn’t interest them instead of using it for something that did.

    #5 Since you are not in serious need of this new role, I’d push back against this lack of consideration, regardless of the level of the interviewer.
    If they refuse to change, then this would be the final red flag to stop me applying for that role and waiting for another opportunity that doesn’t screech warnings.

    1. AJ*

      OP#5 here: you’re right, if I needed the job I might have been more willing. If the ridiculous ask was a test I wasn’t interested in playing. I had the interview today and flat out gave an example where I told my current boss (who I adore) to kick rocks when I thought he needed to hear it. The man who would be my grandboss was also in on the interview and he loved it. I’m not sold on the hiring manager, but I’m also willing (and able) to work around him if I have to.

  23. MuseumChick*

    OP1, I get why you have the impulse to gently correct this person’s grammar. But its important to know that there can be a interested intersection with class and ability status and grammar. Those from higher economic statues are more likely to learn “proper” grammar. Correcting someone’s grammar outside of very specific situations can smack of classism. And, people with conditions like dyslexia often make mistakes like what you show here. So, similarly it can smack of ableism.

    All that to say, let it go.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I do NOT understand this impulse to try to “improve” people you come into contact with, whether that’s trying to correct their grammar/pronunciation, hairdo, makeup, weight or anything else.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I think the impulse arises from the trope of being physically distressed by other people’s language. This is quite common in the literature of language peevery. The writer will describe reeling under waves of nausea upon being exposed to some perfectly normal grammatical construction. If someone else were doing something that literally made you nauseous, it would be reasonable to try to get them to stop. The implausible claims of distress arising from other people’s grammar serves to provide standing to correct (or often, to miscorrect) them.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I…don’t think LW implied anything of the kind. They want to help this person come off as more professional (in an industry where you probably have a lot of clients who expect polish) and hadn’t considered how insulting it could be, no mention of feeling physically distressed.

          Folks who write in to ask for advice before doing anything really don’t deserve to have uncharitable motivations ascribed to them that aren’t in their letters.

          1. Allonge*

            Yes, this is a bit too much. For one thing, just about every parent did / does this daily for a lengthy period to their kids, so it happens around most people with some frequency. It’s a different context for sure, but there is no need to assume bad motivation.

      2. MuseumChick*

        What I meant was, a lot of people think they are being kind/helpful by doing this. But, in reality they are not being either of those. I was trying to show grace/kindness to the OP.

      3. NaoNao*

        I do. It’s because in many parts of the country (US) and society, someone is judged by their grammar and word usage. Seeing someone make an error causes secondhand concern and embarrassment and one wants to “help” them. Now is immediate correction the best “help” maybe not

      4. Irish Teacher.*

        I think sometimes it’s a result of being annoyed at or threatened by them. I know I once had a supervisor whose grammar was such that you couldn’t always understand what she meant. She was also very difficult to work for and would yell at you for doing something she’d told you to, like telling you to go and do X, then yelling at you you should have done y instead. And while I would never have said it, I did find myself getting judgemental about her speaking patterns, I think because she was talking to us as if we were kids or completely stupid so I sort of subconsciously went to, “well, I’m better than you at…”

        This doesn’t seem to be the case for the LW though. There is no indication she is either annoyed with the person or feels inferior to or threatened by them.

        Though the fact it could come across as if she is is another reason not to do this,

    2. RVA Cat*

      My first thought is that it’s AAVE or a regional dialect so she’s not even wrong, she’s just communicating more casually and will code-switch to “proper” grammar when necessary.

      OP, why does this bother you so much?

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      I also picked up on some subtle sexism as well. “In the same way that a woman would subtly tell another woman that she has lipstick on her teeth,” made me prick up my ears. Are you saying you wouldn’t do this if the person in question were male?

      This has a very Upstairs/Downstairs feel to me.

      1. Audrey Puffins*

        Sure, but that could just as easily be coming from a place of “women are often playing the game on a harder mode than men are, and if I spot an opportunity to help another woman close the gap between herself and the men then I owe it to the sisterhood to do so” rather than absolute misogyny.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Agreed, but there are some other elements here I find disturbing, especially describing someone who is a professional as a “service person”. There is very much a “peering over one’s glasses at hoi polloi” attitude in place here, and much less a “woman helping another woman” vibe here.

  24. katertot*

    OP4, honestly six months seems like a pretty unremarkable amount of time for a gap on a resume. Maybe I’ve just been tainted by crappy job markets with frequent periods of layoffs and terrible employment rates, but I wouldn’t think of that amount of time as a red flag.

    Though now I am thinking how long of a resume gap would make me want more details as a hiring manager; maybe a year?

    1. Elsajeni*

      Yes, I think part of what might be coming off weird here is that you’re overexplaining what is currently a pretty short gap — if you took some time to deal with family medical issues AND took some time to think about your next move, I would expect you to have been out of work for more than 5 months, you know? What I might do is drop the “spent some time thinking about what I’d like in my next position,” and instead add the oft-recommended “which are now resolved” when you mention the family medical issues — “I’d finished laying the groundwork for Project and some family medical issues arose, so I stepped away to deal with that. Now that those issues are resolved, I’m ready to get back into the workforce and looking for a new position doing XYZ.”

  25. Irish Teacher.*

    LW1, that sounds like a pet peeve issue on your part more than anything else. What she wrote is perfectly understandable and honestly, it’s something I probably wouldn’t even mark down for if I were correcting the Leaving Cert. English paper.

    Yeah, it may not exactly be standard, but it’s really minor. It’s less the equivalent of telling somebody they have lipstick on their teeth and more telling them their hairstyle isn’t right for their face, in that nobody wants lipstick on their teeth whereas many people choose to use non-standard English.

    And honestly, even if she was writing really badly, it wouldn’t really be you role to correct her.

    Add in the fact that “correct English” can get fraught for all kinds of class and nationality reasons and so on and it’s best avoided as a discussion.

  26. Lorax*

    OP#4, yeah, as others have said, it’s a little much to bring up all that in response to a general question, like “tell me about yourself” or “tell me why you’re interested in this position,” but I wouldn’t see it as prohibitive. It just seems a little unconfident, and it kind of misses the point of a more general question. I think there are stronger ways to respond that focus more on a forward-looking or strengths-based perspective rather than trying to anticipate a potential negative.

    Even if you’re asked about the gap, I’d keep it succinct. Saying “I was dealing with a family medical situation that’s since been resolved,” or “the organization did a re-org that meant my position was no longer aligned with my strengths and interests,” is plenty in response to a direct question!

    That said, I think actually the part of your phrasing that reads strangest to me is the part about timing: it just seems like an odd factor to pair with a family medical situation or other factor. I feel like you’re maybe adding that detail to show you were responsible and thoughtful in your decision to leave, but I don’t normally expect timing, in and of itself, to be a big factor in a person’s decision to leave… highlighting the good timing UP FRONT sort of makes it sound like you were waiting for the first chance to leave (for unknown or undisclosed reasons?) when a family medical emergency just happened to coincide? Or something along those lines. If you mentioned timing at all, I’d put it towards the end as “luckily, the timing worked out since X, and I’ve since had the opportunity to think a lot about my next steps,” but I definitely wouldn’t start with timing. I think the main thrust of your framing should be about the actual reason you left (whether that’s family emergency, re-org, career pivot, fit issues, etc.), and not about WHEN you left.

  27. Spicy Tuna*

    My husband would absolutely love a flower arranging class! Anytime we travel, he always looks for a botanical garden to visit.
    Also, his brother owns a floral shop. Maybe it’s just my personal experience but I wouldn’t consider a flower arranging class gendered at all.

  28. Pamplemousse*

    Maybe it’s because I just like flowers, but I don’t see why a typically gendered activity is inherently problematic. If it’s not exclusionary (like only women can participate) or at the expense of another activity that it’s clear everyone would enjoy much more, then I think it’s ok to tailor to a group of people and and try to hit on some common shared interests. Doesn’t mean that they think that every woman likes flower arranging or that there’s a subtext about women and decorating (though I also don’t see why that would be a problematic association either), just that a lot of people, probably more of them women than men, like arranging lovely bouquets.
    And as someone who has previously been responsible for arranging team building activities, can I just point out how exhausting it is to try to come up with these events? Finding something that will appeal to everyone’s interests, is as inclusive as possible so people aren’t excluded based on physical ability, health status, religion, or other concerns, and is also suitable in a professional setting without being too expensive or logistically challenging, is incredibly difficult.
    To answer your question, yes, I do believe you are being a tad too sensitive and should either just enjoy it for the light-hearted activity it is or politely bow out.

    1. Silver Robin*

      women and decorating is a problematic subtext because it associates women with superficiality and decor, rather than substance (and yes, I think relegating decor to superficiality is unnuanced, but that is a separate conversation). In a world where women *still* have to fight to be taken seriously and all things coded for women (like support/operations jobs and decor) are considered “fluff” or “unskilled” or “less valuable than what men do”, being given a “fluff” activity sets off alarm bells. Does that mean flower arranging can never be done? No, and Alison’s response said as much. But it does explain why the OP might have had a vague wriggle of ick about it that she was struggling to put a finger on.

      1. Pamplemousse*

        If it was part of a job responsibility, like only women were responsible for decor-related activities, then I might agree with you. But many (most?) team-building activities are by their very nature quite fluffy and unserious. Male-coded activities like laser tag or escape rooms aren’t exactly tied to a serious portrayal of men in the workplace, so using these as a proxy for the status of the sexes is not particularly useful.

    2. Immaterial*

      The best team building activity I’ve done was one of those paint and sip painting things but without the acholol and during the work day. it was accessible to all of the staff and easy to chat with people while doing. It required no actual skill. It was also kinda neat to see everyones versions of the same picture decorating their cubes afterwards.
      It was much better than say a after hours cocktail or a golf outing.
      I can see flower arranging being a version of that.

      1. UKDancer*

        This so much. I mean easy crafts are fairly accessible, don’t require too much skill and give you something to do and talk about with your team. It’s not what I’d choose to do if I had endless money and time but it’s not just about one person, team activities are about finding something that a reasonable number of people are broadly happy with and don’t object to. I mean I’d rather we did a ballet class together but my colleagues probably wouldn’t want to, I’ve a colleague who would rather play football but a number of others wouldn’t. Crafts can be good because most people can engage with them.

  29. Denny Anonymous*

    LW4, don’t mention any gaps or any reasons for leaving previous roles unless you’re asked, and even then, focus your answer on why you’re interested in the role you’ve applied for.

    I hire a lot of people, and I’ve always thought questions like “why did you leave your last job?” and “why did you leave this previous job?” and “explain this gap in your CV” need to be avoided and just not asked.

    They’re not inclusive, they’re not helpful or relevant the vast majority of the time, and it’s the complete opposite of a trauma-informed approach. It also risks revealing protected information or information otherwise covered by anti-discrimination laws (eg: marital status, disability/health info, carer’s status, if you’re a parent or not, religious or cultural background/affiliation, and so on).

  30. Justme, The OG*

    LW1, the answer to whether you should correct a stranger’s grammar is always a resounding no.

  31. I like them, I do*

    The issue with Grammar for me is that it actively discriminates against regional accents, part of the charm of accents is their unique use of grammar, round my way “I like them, I do” is a common phrase, along with “I are” and “I don’t know nothing” which are perfectly acceptable colloquially.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      My region people often say “I tell you what” as a preface to a sentence. I never even realized it until a friend who moved from California pointed it out. She was so confused because sometimes people will just say that almost as an exclamation and she was wondering why we never actually tell her what.

      Regionalisms are fun and interesting. It would be so boring if we all spoke and wrote exactly the same.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      And a lot of the reasons behind various regional accents & dialects in the US is the languages spoken by immigrants in the region generations ago. It’s why in northern Minnesota people will say “I borrowed him a coat” – borrowed & lent are the same word in the original language of a large immigrant group and over generations that particular element remained as people shifted into English. The classic “Pittsburghese” (really, Appalachian) dropped infinitive (“his coat needs washed” or “my pencil needs sharpened”) is an inheritance from a non-English language that doesn’t have that structure.

  32. liisa*

    Big corporate meetings serve big corporate egos.

    End of story.

    I’ve literally never been to one that was useful in my 20 years in the industry (I work in tech). And the idea that these meetings convey information better than an email because people don’t read emails? Sorry, but I think you’re vastly overestimating how much information people are going to retain from a presentation that is 90% the c-suite blowing smoke up each other’s butts in front of a slide deck consisting of corporate logos. Waste of time and money all around.

    1. RVA Cat*

      They’re basically high school pep rallies and the executives are the football team. Time to summon your inner Daria.

      1. Antilles*

        That’s exactly what they are.
        The ONLY difference is that rather than having the head coach tell you about how we need everybody to show up and cheer hard on Friday to beat Rival, you get the CEO telling you how we need everybody to show up and work hard next quarter to beat revenue targets.

    2. WellRed*

      Yes, I was surprised by that part of the answer. I’m never going to retain from a lengthy missing what I could from a 2 minute read (or could save and refer back to).

    3. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Yup. All-hands were already annoying when they were mandatory, an hour flight away requiring an overnight stay, and always on a Thursday, thus destroying Friday because you never got home til 2 a.m., but you still had to go to work on Friday.

      Then my local branch said “hold my beer” and added their own “all hands” but everything is handled by the corporate HQ and corporate schedules it on, essentially the local version of Mardi Gras. As in, scheduling an all-hands meeting instead of participating in the local events couldn’t possibly make the local branch look more out of touch with the local area.

      Then they can’t figure out why the entire staff is crabby, why there’s no available parking, and there’s a million and a half people wandering around downtown. 6 hours of repeat conversation from the higher ups as to why things are great, why the company is great, and why we should be thankful to be here….

  33. Off to have a party*

    By an Amazing co-incidence I’m off to our Company 10 year party in an hour. Everyone is being put up in a hotel (no partners). We have lunch first, then about 4 hours of discussions and speakers, then we get dinner, then we have a party, the following day you can choose spa or golf for the morning, then lunch, then an early go home at 1pm.
    Everything is paid for, including the bar all night.
    That’s a balanced and fun company event.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I’ll grant you that it is less hideous than it could be, but (1) what will those four hours actually accomplish?, (2) not everybody is interested in either spa or golf, (3) nor is hanging out in a room full of drunk people everyone’s idea of a treat: quite the opposite. Were I there, the first afternoon would be a four hour gap in my life, I would spend the following morning reading a book (in a public space if I felt it socially required, in my room otherwise), and in between I would go to bed early after having made a token appearance. These are far from the worst thing (except those gruesome four hours of blather), but I would rather do them at home, and doing them at a hotel wouldn’t make me love my job if I didn’t already.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I can handle it. I am an adult and know that some unpleasant experiences, like dental appointments and corporate celebrations, are necessary. But the dentist doesn’t try to tell me that this is a great treat.

          1. Barb*


            C.S. Lewis in his autobiography tells at length how he hated compulsory sports in school but notes when discussing his military service (he was a WWI soldier at the Somme!) that while it was much worse, no one made him pretend that he liked it.

    2. Beancounter Eric*


      You have just described several of the levels of Hell!!

      Balanced and fun…..not even close.

      Your four hours of discussions and speakers is more likely four-plus hours of egos blathering on about their “achievements” for the year; dinner is probably garden-variety rubber chicken. The “party” is most definitely right-out….too loud, too much drunken debauchery, and too many of the afore-mentioned egos engaging in alcohol-boosted blathering.

      The following day – spa or golf. No…….just, no.

  34. SunnyDay*

    Re: Should I correct a service person’s grammar?

    There’s so much classism in this headline. The question could just as easily be “ Should I correct (any) person’s grammar?” There’s no need to specify that the person making the grammatical mistake is a service person. Plenty of white collar workers with advanced degrees make grammatical errors, too.

  35. Nonsense*

    LW1’s first sentence is a terrible run-on, and yet she thinks she has the standing to correct someone else’s grammar?

    1. Chicago Anon*

      It’s a periodic sentence with several parallel sub-clauses, but there is nothing grammatically wrong with it.

      1. Nonsense*

        A semi-colon should have absolutely been utilized as there are two separate but related thoughts occuring within the same sentence. Even parentheses would better separate out the extraneous information.

  36. Angie S.*

    As a non-native speaker of English, I will say that if it’s an obvious mistake (like go, went, gone), they should have already known and you pointing it out would not help. English is a language that many non-native speakers learn as if it’s math but later you will find a lot of illogical rules that you just have to remember. The remembering part is the hardest for many.

    1. JustaTech*

      As a native, monolingual speaker of English, the only thing worse than the grammar is the spelling (why is there a second “a” in grammar” rather than an “e”?).
      It’s a very annoying language and I have endless respect for anyone who learns it as a second language.

      1. C*

        > why is there a second “a” in grammar” rather than an “e”?

        Because of the connection to the related word grammatical.

  37. Medium Sized Manager*

    I want to frame “A long, boring meeting that could have been an email — but it would have been an email half the recipients didn’t read” and put it on literally everybody’s desk.

    The amount of people who have “never heard of a change” that I have personally emailed to them and discussed it in a meeting they’re tuning out of is too high

    1. TX_TRUCKER*

      We announced a simple but “big change” via email to about 500 people. The email included instructions on how to receive a $50 gift card. You only had to make the request, no test, no raffle. Just a free $50 for reading the email. We got single digit requests for the money. And that forever cemented the need for our big quarterly meetings. For us, that’s mabe 200 managers in one room for a company of 10,000 employees.

      1. TiffIf*

        I’ve had this type of reward for those who actually read the email ones before. I did get the prize at least once, but these were on department emails which are usually more relevant; I can’t claim I definitely would have gotten it if it had been a company-wide email. However, I do still skim those at least.

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I wonder how many people assumed it was phishing and didn’t respond for that reason? I probably would have – I’ve reported emails from execs as phishing before, when it was stuff like “Congratulations from (CEO name) on your hard work, please go to this random third-party link and fill out your information to receive your gift”.

        (And the sorts of meetings we’re talking about would include all 10,000 people.)

  38. purpleprose*

    Alison’s comment to LW3 about ‘running down the aisle to AC/DC and getting people all pumped up’ reminded me of David Brent’s stint as a ‘motivational coach’ in the UK version of The Office.

  39. HonorBox*

    OP4 – Let them ask about the end to your last role. It isn’t the same, but we certainly wouldn’t counsel someone with a terrible manager to proactively offer that they’re looking for a new job because the have ineffective management above them. Offering it without being asked might read to some people like you’re too eager to share that and they’ll wonder why. Also the time you took to care for family and then to recalibrate and figure out what you want in your next role… let that come up naturally in conversation. I think if you offer it early as part of “tell us about yourself” it will feel scripted. And too polished might make people think there’s more to the story.

  40. Keymaster of Gozer*

    1. Unsolicited spoken grammar advice is like giving someone unsolicited weight loss advice. If they’re happy with being out and about and doing their stuff they don’t need correction. Someone yesterday tried to tell me I was using my cane wrong and shouldn’t be wearing heels. Because they were worried that I was doing more damage to myself.

    It’s one of those situations where you have no authority to say that (unlike my physio who is fine with how I attempt to walk), no ability to make them change, no knowledge at all of why they are spekaing/looking/acting like that and in some cases can really cause some mental damage.

    I’m lucky, I’m in my late 40s and DGAF about people’s opinions of how I look, walk or speak.

  41. Tradd*

    I will correct coworkers’ writing privately – or bring it up with their manager. I have a writing background and education. Over the years, in client-facing jobs, I’ve had multiple coworkers who simply can’t write coherent sentences. It’s common for them to write like they’re texting, complete with emojis or “u” for you and “r” for are. Their emails are sometimes so bad my jaw drops open when I see them.

    That being said, I had a manager a while back who always said things like “drownded” and was constantly using words in the wrong context. She was a native speaker.

    1. Yolanda*

      If my coworker corrected my grammar and/or brought it up with my manager, that would be the end of any sort of warm or friendly relationship between me and said coworker (although, I’d guess that your coworkers probably aren’t big fans of yours prior to said corrections being made).

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      yeah don’t correct your coworkers grammar unless its actually your job or they explicitly ask.

    3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Can’t, or choose not to? Lots of younger people may not have learned that the conventions for email are different from those for texting. It’s not exactly something that’s taught, and if they haven’t used email much it won’t be something they’ve picked up informally, either. I sincerely doubt people have graduated college, or even high school, literally being ‘unable’ to write coherent sentences.

  42. Kristin*

    LW #3, I am actually home sick today missing my department’s version of this (not several thousand people in a big room, just several hundred). The presentation part is a bit of a yawn, but I really appreciate the networking and social aspect. These things are valuable if you want to get face time with higher ups or make connections with managers of other teams where you might want to make transfer. Especially if you’re working hybrid or fully remote, having an event where everyone or mostly everyone gets together is not a bad idea.

    That being said, this is for one department with a headcount in the hundreds, out of an institution with a headcount in the tens of thousands. If the powers that be decided to, I don’t know, rent a stadium and get every single employee into it for some kind of presentation, I would also hate it. If theres a mechanism for feedback on the event, maybe suggest subdividing it next time?

  43. Sick of Workplace Bullshit (she/her)*

    LW 1, I’m an ESL teacher and I understand the impulse. I also know that language is about understandable communication, and hers did that.

    There are also regional variations that could be common where she comes from that are not “standard”. In Newfoundland, “I seen” is common and acceptable. I have to say it drives me nuts, but there are so many variations all over. Which makes English a lot of fun, but sometimes frustrating to teach!

  44. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    Unless the grammar is really bad, then leave it alone. The same with pronunciation. Quesadilla versus “kiss a dillo”.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      You can guess what I mis-read “kiss a dillo” as. Oops.

      Agreed with your take, and definitely, if they mispronounce quesadilla as what I mis-read, it would be a kindness to mention “yeah, that’s not how that’s pronounced”.

        1. JustaTech*

          Don’t kiss an armadillo! They can carry leprosery!

          My favorite actively wrong pronunciation is “quest-a-dilla”. But that’s an active choice, like calling Target “Tar-gay” (or however you would write that, I have a hard time with sound-to-text).


    #5. My company usually has interviews for internal candidates at a location other than where they will working. It cuts down the awkwardness of seeing people in the hallway that may be competing for the same job … or who think they should be getting the job and aren’t even getting an interview. Some candidates prefer to keep their application secret which is difficult to do when you interview at a specific location.

    1. Claire*

      This was my immediate thought: they want to maintain some level of confidentiality of who is interviewing for the job BECAUSE it’s internal. An old company I used to work for usually did them at a hotel nearby.

    2. AJ*

      OP here:
      That is something I had not considered! But the Main Office would then have been just as good. The position is in Ops and the Main Office does not have field personnel in it. Blending in to the crowd would be easy there. I just couldn’t believe the HM was asking every candidate (again, we all live near the Local Office) to do a cross Boston Rush Hour drive.

      I know I regularly know who is interviewing for what and why. I’ve declined to put my name in a hat because I liked others for a role better than myself. But that’s definitely probably not the norm!

  46. Fluffy Fish*

    OP1 – there are so many reasons may be “grammatically incorrect” – not everyone excels in all areas, dialects and regionalisms, speaking multiple languages so on and so forth. im a professional communicator for work and yet i butcher grammar in the comment section all the time simply because im typing fast and im not giving my brain a chance to catch up. because it doesn’t matter – it’s a comment section not a grammar test.

    look at it like this. the point of writing and speaking is to communicate. did you understand what someone said? then they communicated just fine.

    absolutely no one likes the grammar police.

  47. kiki*

    #2 I would actually really enjoy a flower arranging class and find it a welcome deviation from the other activities orgs in my field tend to plan. My field is male-dominated, so there are a lot of brewery-hangs, rock climbing afternoons, baseball games, etc. I like all those things well enough, but they’re not my first choice. I know a few women in the office have kept suggesting a wine and paint session but it always gets turned down, I think because it’s female-coded.

    I understand LW’s aversion to this type of event and the idea that this was planned because “Oh of course the ladies love flowers.” But is it possible, some of the folks on the support team suggested a flower arranging party and are really excited for it? No event is going to be a hit with everyone. I also want to add that I actually have a few male friends who are super into floral arrangements— I think it’s popularity is growing among men.

  48. Choggy*

    Staff appreciation should be handled by way of a living wage, comprehensive medical coverage that is affordable, safe working conditions, and a supportive environment. All that other stuff is fluff, unless you are offering bonuses and maybe some catered lunches or other activities that involve all levels of the organization.

  49. Msd*

    “Have ran” grates but if we were allowed to correct grammar (which we shouldn’t) then please please please start with correcting people and writing that use “I” instead of “me”. It’s as though everyone decided that “me” in a sentence is wrong. Take out the other person in the sentence and it’s easy to tell which is correct. “Bob gave the book to my hisbamd and I”. “Bob gave the book to I”. On the other hand I’m sure there are multiple grammatical errors in this comment.

  50. Marta*

    In #5, if the long drive is just a one time thing for the interview, it doesn’t seem so bad – people travel for interviews all the time.

    Three people in the role in six months is way more of a red flag in my view. The interview could be five minutes away and I would still be leery.

  51. Plume*

    My parents didn’t graduate from Highschool. I’m now successful and solidly middle class. Don’t correct my grammer.

    To me it just screams – I perfectly understood you. Your work was fine. But I can tell you don’t really belong here so I’m going to nitpick and try to publicly embarrass you over this very minor thing.

    That is 100% how it reads and I’ve never come away thinking the other person is doing it out of the goodness of their heart. Let’s be real, derailing someone to correct their grammer isn’t at all about helping the speaker/writer. It’s just another way that the “In” crowd spotlights the “outsiders”.

    1. kiki*

      Yeah, there are only a few scenarios where it is appropriate, like if you’ve been asked to proofread something, somebody is giving you a dry run before a big presentation, or somebody is working on learning English as a second language and they’ve said that they appreciate guidance/ help.

      I think LW is being genuine in their desire to help this service personnel become more polished, but they’re not in the right position to do so. Also, one person’s “polished” is another person’s “stuffy and stilted.”

    2. CommanderBanana*

      Yes, if a stranger corrected my grammar, unsolicited, that says an awful lot about that person. I imagine they are also the type of person who writes into Miss Manners about how terrible it is that retail workers use the phrase ‘no problem.’

  52. Czhorat*

    I’d love a free flower-arranging class, but I’m a man working in a somewhat technically-oriented field so it wouldn’t come with the kind of assumptions to me that it would for a most female group of support staff.

    This is an interesting case about how the role and demographics within the role informs the impact that the activity has.

    1. Clisby*

      I (a woman) wouldn’t mind a flower-arranging class; I love having fresh flowers in the house. I know a little about it because my mother was a dedicated garden club member and used to explain to me what she was doing when she made arrangements, but I’m no expert.

      At least it’s something I would use at home, unlike something like paintball or an escape room, which are NO.

  53. Pikachu*

    #1 – Professional copywriter checking in. I speak improperly … often. Living in KY does not help as I now find myself using “ain’t” unironically. I am 100% behind using y’all though!

    1. CommanderBanana*

      I did grow up in the U.S. and lived in the South very, very briefly, but picked up a ‘ya’ll’ that I still use, because in the language I learned first, there is a word that means “all of you, but not me” but there isn’t really a great equivalent in English.

      1. Clisby*

        Technically, “y’all” doesn’t mean “all of you.” It means 2 or more of you. “All y’all” means “all of you.”

        Signed – lifelong Southerner.

  54. JTP*

    OP #1 — you want to see her “be her best”? Yikes. Double yikes if you are male. Triple yikes if she’s a minority.

  55. CommanderBanana*

    Our family held a special event, and the staff at the venue were excellent, all very helpful and competent, they know their jobs well and I have nothing but good to say about the event. I want to see this event planner be her best.

    It sounds like the event planner is already being her best. Do not correct a stranger’s grammar. It’s presumptuous and rude.

  56. Pocket Mouse*

    LW #4 – in the letter you say you finished a project, and in your script you say you finished setting the groundwork for a project. Which is it? If you do mention finishing X, be very clear that it was a *good* time to leave, rather than possibly leaving colleagues to launch a project after you leave with all the relevant institutional knowledge. I’d even frame it as you were doing X and knew you wanted to do more Y, but stayed to finish the project/complete and document major steps/what have you before moving on.

  57. Mary Smith*

    OP 3

    I worked in internal communications for a year at a Fortune 10 company. These meetings are a response to the large number of employee complaints we’d get from employees that the leadership “wasn’t transparent” and “didn’t communicate” enough. So I think the status quo thing that Allison talks about is true, but the opposite too in that employees expect a certain amount of interaction with senior leadership.

    In addition, employees kept reporting in surveys that didn’t feel like they understood how their work connected to the overall company strategy, so a lot of these meetings are around that.

    Does that make them effective? I always argued no. Often, senior leadership goes into these meetings and reports the same information to employees that they’ve already communicated because they aren’t allowed to give more details on a particular subject (such as a reorg). When employees say “I want more information” they don’t mean “I want the same information repeated at me again,” they mean they want new/additional information. The employees want reassurances around the unknown and they want less unknown. I tried and tried to get people to understand this, but it’s hard when the senior leader isn’t allowed to say anything new, so they feel like the only thing they can do is hold these townhalls to show they are at least present and listening.

    1. OxfordBlue*

      That’s exactly how I always felt on both sides of the question, thankyou for putting it so well.
      I might add that when done as a webinar please make sure any speakers are audible during everything they say. I once dialled in remotely for an all staff session when our company was taken over and the new CEO kept walking away from the microphone so we only heard about a third of what she was telling us. Later events proved it hadn’t been worth paying attention to but we didn’t know that at the time.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yeah, our CEO gave the annual meeting and not only was he not mic’d, but he was in a room that wasn’t intended for talks that are broadcast, to the camera was someone’s laptop at a weird angle, and then the CEO decided to write on a flip chart in a series of squiggles known only to him (really illegible handwriting in two very different languages).

        It was highly uninformative and frustrating.

  58. Czhorat*

    For LW1, correcting a stranger’s grammar is wrong on multiple levels:

    First, it is very, very hard to do this without it coming across as pedantic and a bit elitist; you clearly understand what she meant, so you aren’t clarifying. You’re just correcting a detail for the sake of correcting, with no clarification on meaning.

    Second, if you’re speaking to a service person there is an implied power dynamic. Giving grammar lessons leans into those and makes it appear that you see yourself as above them. I don’t think this is the intent, but it’s definitely an implied message.

    I understand that it’s meant as a kindness, and I understand that grammatical mistakes can sound awkward to your ear – they do to mine. This is a case in which we need to swallow our discomfort and just move on.

    1. HannahS*

      Yes, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. The impact of doing it is opposite to the intention!

  59. StressedButOkay*

    #1, correcting someone’s grammar isn’t part of the “girlie” code and shouldn’t be looked at as such! You flagging that she has something stuck in her teeth or skirt tucked in her hose is a favor. Correcting grammar is something you can do with someone you manage but not someone you’ve hired.

  60. Administrative Professionals Day Sucks*

    Please do not correct a service person’s grammar, OP1. It’s rude and and it’s not needed.

  61. mbs001*

    I would never correct the grammar of someone I was doing business with or ran into in a social setting. But regarding the grammar of an employee you supervise, you definitely need to correct them since they interact with other staff members and firm clients.

  62. Procedure Publisher*

    My former employer had meeting at the CEO level, the direct report of the CEO that you are under, and the manager that was three above me. These meetings did mention changes if you paid attention. Those changes did result in me being laid off.

  63. Jam Today*

    There is close to a 100% guarantee that LW1 thinks the habitual be in AAVE is ‘uneducated’ while thinking the exact same habitual be in Irish (Hibernian) English is ‘charming’.

  64. purple monkey & bubblegum tree*

    LW1–if you can understand what someone is saying, they don’t need to be corrected. You aren’t their teacher. Let it go.

  65. Salty Caramel*

    I find the desire to correct grammar so someone can “be their best” condescending as hell. I also can’t help but wonder if there’s a racial or classist component here, though neither was mentioned.

    A vendor contact making arrangements is also not someone I would consider a service person.

    This was completely out of line. Correcting grammar is for people you raise, people who ask, or in some cases part of a job like copyediting. I’m just glad OP1 didn’t actually do this.

  66. PotatoRock*

    IMO, the big company meetings are 90% pep rally ish; but occasionally you get some interesting insight into how leadership views XYZ – eg. what projects are they choosing to highlight, how do they talk about challenge ABC?

    Having them in the busy season sucks, but as a general strategy, our department leadership tends to hold a follow up, to discuss how the corporate priorities apply to our team, and that actually can be genuinely interesting. This usually takes the form of 1 meeting (and mostly Q&A) with the ~100 person org, and then 1 meeting (small group discussion) of ~5 ppl and their manager.

  67. Space Needlepoint*

    Generally, I see “service person” used when referring to a cashier, a retail associate, a server, or a bartender. An event planner is a professional selling a service, but she’s not a service person.

    The elitism is strong here.

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      As an event planner—yes and thank you. Not that education makes someone a professional, but I have a danger master’s degree. lol

      I work directly with executives and their support staff to plan events at arenas used for the NCAA playoffs, regional theaters, and in small, intimate venues. None of what I do would be considered a service role.

    2. Czhorat*

      I completely agree with this, with the caveat that even if it IS a cashier, a bartender, or retail associate the answer would be the same.

      The measure of respect we show for fellow humans should not depend on their educational background.

      1. Space Needlepoint*

        Fair point. Not to mention someone doing those jobs may also have another position that could be more…executive? Not sure what word would be good.

  68. WantonSeedStitch*

    I had a report who had a habit of inserting hyphens into phrases where they didn’t belong. (Think: “I’m going to write to her to say thank-you.” “He thinks I need to reach-out to the IT team about the problem.”) Whenever she put those misplaced hyphens into a work product, I would take them out. It was my job as her manager to review those pieces of writing for content, grammar, and style. When we were just emailing back and forth, there was no reason for me to correct her. This was the case even though I was her manager. If I’m a CLIENT of someone providing a service for me and they use poor grammar in communications with me, I am not going to correct them! If the grammar makes things unclear, I’ll ask for clarification. “Did you mean you DO need me to do X, or that you DON’T need me to do X?” It’s absolutely not my job to make them better at theirs. I might provide feedback on my experience as a client if I think it will help them improve things: “it would be really helpful if you sent out a questionnaire about XYZ before providing the quote so we didn’t have to do all this back and forth about items I don’t need.”

  69. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    I may be naive, but I don’t see the request to travel for an interview with an executive/C-suite to be a red flag. As long as the role itself is confirmed to be in the OP’s local office, it isn’t weird to have the interview at the location most convenient to the exec. It’s a matter of time and whose time is most valuable.

    Ideally it would be at a mutually convenient location, and the other things mentioned are red flags, but I don’t read the interview location as one.

    1. Loredena*

      The OP specified the hiring manager isn’t C suite or an exec though. (OP said they wouldn’t have pushed back if it was a VP)

      1. AJ*

        OP here

        Correct. we’re talking about Manager level where we share the same pay band. I am looking to make the move from Customer to Operations.

        I mostly found it odd because I wondered if they were making everyone do this crazy drive since they have to be located near the local office. After my interview today, I am of the impression they may not have had many candidates.

        1. Observer*

          I think you really need to dig in to why there is so much turnover and why there are so few candidates. You said that there are red flags – take them seriously.

  70. Scholarly Publisher*

    Times when I will correct someone else’s grammar/spelling:

    1. At work when my task is to look for errors in that piece of writing.
    2. When I’m reading my kids’ written school assignments.
    3. When that someone specifically asks me to.

    Times when I will not correct someone else’s grammar/spelling:
    1. All other times.

  71. pro word wrangler*

    Professional editor, former linguistics professor here. It’s never your job to correct someone else’s grammar unless you’re being paid for it (editor, teacher and the like) or they’ve asked you to. end of story.

  72. Wanda Moosejaw*

    A member of my organization will say “If you don’t care…” instead of “If you don’t mind” and it drives me nuts. I assume it’s just a regionalism and would never tell them I don’t like it, but I internally cringe every time they ask me to do something (“If you don’t care, can you send me the XYZ document). I supposed I could try replying “I don’t care at all!” but can’t bring myself to say that (unless I actually mean I don’t care!)

  73. Destra N.*

    If you ever have to ask “should I correct someone’s grammar” the answer is always “absolutely not.” I say that as someone with a literal writing degree. Truly ask yourself: “Did I understand what they said?” If the answer is yes, congratulations! You’ve successfully engaged in interpersonal communication! That’s it, the end.

  74. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    The best thing that came out of the pandemic was our big corporate meetings moved to zoom meetings and even now, when they have started doing them in person again, there is always a zoom option. I put it on and continue working. I can tune in for the sections that apply to me and tune out for the parts that do not.

    My husbands company does one of the big state of the company addresses at the annual family holiday party. It was torture for the families. No 7 year old kid wants to know how many more teacups were produced this year or the state of the global teacup market. Mind numbing. The kids and I refused to go after the 3rd year.

  75. stitchinthyme*

    Years ago, I almost got in trouble for being a bit too vocal in my dislike of those big corporate meetings — the wrong person (someone I didn’t know, but who knew who I was) heard me and reported me to our VP. When this got back to me (through other people), I went to the VP’s office and apologized for being unprofessional in voicing my feelings, but not for the feelings themselves. I don’t remember what the VP said in response, but that was the end of it and I didn’t face any repercussions.

    Still, I’m glad that the two companies I’ve worked in since then either didn’t have these kinds of meetings, or have them virtually so I can let my attention wander or do other things while they’re going on.

  76. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Don’t do this. It’s nothing like lipstick on the teeth. It’s being picky and won’t win you any friends. You’ll make more friends with salad, if you know what I mean.

    #2 – Flower arranging is a heck of a lot harder than it looks. It’s artistic and also tests spatial reasoning. It can also be fun. If the team is interested, it’s sort of low-stakes and if people end up not liking it, don’t do it again.

    #3 – Zone out during the 2 hour meeting. Just zone all the way out. Take an eyes-open nap. Think about flower arranging.

    #5 – Maybe you can get a recording of the 2 hour meeting from #3 to listen to on the 2 hour drive to the main office. Don’t zone out or take an eyes-open nap – that’s bad when driving.

  77. Petty_Boop*

    LW1: For some reason, your letter reminded me of when my son was around 3 or 4 and he’d be playing and I’d say, “Ok Son, behave” and he’d exasperatedly say to me, “MOM, I’m being haved.” He didn’t think of it as any different than “be good” and “I’m being good” and I didn’t have the heart to correct him cuz it was too darn cute. I think your contact probably is thinking “ok I ran the card” and is trying to be formal with “I have ran it” rather than “I ran your card and all is good.” She’ll learn. Or she won’t, but no kittens will die as a result!

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