Town Talk Features

The Honest Truth: Missed Manners

A bunch of people at my office were planning an after-hours event just for fun. In the group text, one of our more senior colleagues called out a younger colleague for using ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re.’ She’s proud of the fact she did this because she says, “This generation needs to know how important proper grammar is.” The colleague who was corrected is livid. Do I let it go? It was supposed to be a fun event, but this has put a damper on it.

Beth: There are several problems here. First of all, casual conversations among friends should never be held to the same standard as client communications. Second, your senior colleague’s delivery was inconsiderate. Just as grammar is important in a professional environment, so is delivering feedback in a respectful way—ideally in private. Third, when giving feedback, our objective should be to serve the person to whom we are speaking, not to boost our own egos. And finally, we all have been victims of errant ‘auto-corrects,’ so your senior colleague could have considered giving her junior colleague the benefit of the doubt.

Jill: I agree with Beth on this. The senior colleague missed the mark on her tone of voice (or tone of text, as it were) on this one—although I must admit this is a pet peeve of mine. I can relate to this meme: The devil whispered in my ear, “Your not strong enough to withstand this storm.” I whispered back, “You’re.”

What’s the proper thing to do when I have a lunch appointment that no-shows and I’m sitting in the middle of a busy restaurant with a drink? Should I order food since I’ve been occupying the space my server could have filled with a paying customer? Or just leave because I’m not hungry? And if I don’t have cash to put on the table and walk out discreetly, I shouldn’t just leave without paying with a credit card, right? Totally awkward.

Jill: If you’re not hungry, ordering food just for the server’s sake feels like people pleasing to me. And, of course you’re right—leaving without paying is stealing. A simple explanation will do. “My lunch appointment didn’t show. I’ll just need to pay for my drink.” Then, maybe leave a few extra bucks for the tip when you sign the credit card bill.

Beth: I agree with Jill. Nothing beats honest communication. Also, you might want to spend some time considering whether you are too fearful about looking bad. Whenever you are worried about feeling awkward, you have less mental capacity to consider other possibilities, such as asking whether you could use your credit card just for the tip.

Jill Farmer is a master certified life coach, author and time management aficionado. Beth Chesterton is a master certified executive coach and an expert in organizational development. If you have a question that needs an honest answer, email