One Word You Should Never Use In a Conversation

fizkes/iStock via Getty Images
fizkes/iStock via Getty Images

It’s been over a week since you emailed your colleague with an important request, and still you’ve received no response. Knowing they’re probably swamped with other things and loathing the thought of seeming annoying or rude, you type out the most cheerful, least threatening follow-up email you can come up with.

“I just wanted to check in on…” it begins.

If this situation sounds familiar, it’s probably not the only message in your outbox that includes the word just. As The Guardian points out, adding just is fine if there’s a specific reason you want your email to sound conciliatory—say, for example, you’re asking the recipient to complete a project before the agreed-upon deadline, or squeeze in one more meeting on a day that they’ve already indicated is booked.

Often, however, we use just as a way of apologizing when there isn’t really anything for which to apologize. In a LinkedIn blog post, Google’s former head of global marketing communications Ellen Petry Leanse explains that just frequently functions as a “subtle message of subordination, or deference,” thus giving the recipient more control over the conversation. And it won’t just weaken your message—it might also weaken others’ impression of you as a strong, decisive communicator.

Leanse also noticed that, on her team, women were more likely than men to pepper their messages with just. To see if striking the word would make any difference, Leanse and her team agreed to work on omitting the word whenever possible. Over time, they felt their confidence levels go up, and their communication became clearer and more direct.

Of course, Leanse’s case study is only one non-scientific example of just’s permeative impact on employees, and not every workplace is the same. But it could be worth trying a similar experiment on your own to see if a moratorium on that pesky little word has a positive effect on how others see you—and how you see yourself, too.

[h/t The Guardian]

Rosetta Stone Is Offering Big Savings on Language-Learning Subscriptions for a Limited Time

Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone

If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to start learning a new language, now might be the perfect time. Through the end of the day on February 14, Rosetta Stone is offering major savings on language-learning software and subscriptions, making this a unique Valentine's Day gift for your significant other or just for yourself. The best deal is still the lifetime subscription for $199 (save $100), but there are other low prices on three-month, 12-month, and 24-month plans. You can read more about them here.

With the online subscription, you can access lessons to learn Spanish, German, French, Chinese and the many other available languages on any device. Along with getting a full course, your online subscription also comes with a phrasebook full of common expressions that are perfect for traveling, games that match your language level, stories to read for extra vocabulary practice, and much more. And the best part is that you’ll be able to participate in these language-learning exercises and courses on your own schedule and take them with you on the go.

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Presidents Day vs. President's Day vs. Presidents' Day: Which One Is It?

welcomia/iStock via Getty Images
welcomia/iStock via Getty Images

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" implies that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the more than 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

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