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Words Do Mean Things

Let’s start with a few conundrums. (That’s a confusing or difficult problem. It might also be a question asked for amusement.) Who would do that? Me? You use the English language every day. And, as a Boss or as a Parent, you know what you said. So, how could you be misunderstood? Let’s look a little deeper into the words we use:

  • The plural of box is boxes. Is the plural of ox, oxes? No, it's oxen.

  • Or, I catch a fish, but you catch more than one. You actually caught more fish or fishes than me. Go figure. Both are right.

  • If I talk about a foot; but you show me two feet. Or, maybe give you a book, would 2

books be a beek?

  • Heaven forbid you find a mouse in your house. More than one mouse would be mice; but the plural of house is houses; not hice. Go figure.

  • And for the outdoors persons among you, the words goose and moose: the plural of goose is geese; but the plural of moose is never meese.

  • And, we have a brother and also brethren. And yes, we have a mother; but we never refer to her as a methren.

  • Do you have any “niblings”? They do exist. They are your nieces and nephews. Who knew?

  • And lastly, you may own a Prius. That’s one. But a Toyota dealership has a lot full them. They are properly called Prii. (Another go figure.)


I hope the amusement factor isn’t lost on you. Most of you are smiling ever so slightly about the humor component of how difficult the English language is and continues to be.

Now let me switch gears and talk about two sets of words that are often referred to as synonyms, but aren’t necessarily. (Did I put you on guard?)


Empathy and Sympathy: In short explanation, Empathy suggests “understanding” and Sympathy suggests not only Understanding; but leans toward “Agreement”. As a Supervisor, recognizing the difference, and being able to communicate and implement the difference in doing your job is critical.


And, what about Tolerance and Acceptance? Tolerance is empathy or indulgence of practices and behaviors differing from or conflicting with yours. Tolerance includes a suggestion of time-sensitivity.. for how long?  Acceptance is the quality or state of being acceptable/allowed…with an insinuated “long or no end date in mind”.


As a Supervisor or Manager, what do you Tolerate and what do you Accept?


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