Just Chill.

Guess what? My most recent blog post received double-digit comments—a new record for me. Whether that occurred due to the subject matter or the fact that I shamelessly asked for comments (remember…I’m breezy!) is debatable, but a couple of the responses have led me to develop another first—a follow-up post.

Consider this comment from Lou, one of my Plante Moran colleagues:

Just chill out! I understand and appreciate the concern expressed about undermining authority. However, authority is earned and is the product of effort and contribution times experience. Using “gentler pressure” is actually a way to influence the longer term, not only the moment you respond. Once you’re viewed as harsh or overly direct, your audience shuts down. I use the adage that I attribute to Frank Moran (likely he noted from someone else): “gentle pressure, constantly applied yields results and avoids major interruptions.” Just my $0.02.

Of course he’s right. Authority is earned, and I understand that there’s a fine line between direct and abrupt. Moreover, I consider that Frank Moran quote a personal mantra (though for my purposes, it’s “gentle pressure, relentlessly applied”). I think about the people I respect most professionally—men and women—and all have made an art out of this. But there are “just” so many gray areas…

Consider this.

The same day my last blog came out, I was copied on an email from Lindsay, PM’s marketing tax consultant. It began like this: “Hi Mike — wanted to give you an update on the latest private equity tax article.” Immediately afterward, she forwarded that email to me with the following comment: “You’ll be happy to know I removed three instances of ‘just’ from this email.”

And I was happy! Because I could see the effect of removing those “justs” in action. Look at that first sentence; I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck that it initially said, “Hi Mike — just wanted to give you an update….” But instead she went with the more direct “…wanted to give you an update….” And there’s nothing harsh or off-putting about it.

What do you think? Should I just chill out? And are there any specific topics you’d like me to touch on? I’ll be back in about two weeks.

Word of the Week:  Anodyne (I heard a vendor say this in a presentation last week. Good word.)
Song of the Week:  “Summertime,” Will Smith



  1. Jerry Jonckheere says

    “Gentle pressure, relentlessly applied”. That sounds like the approach YOU use when putting together Plante Moran annual Tax Guide that works so effectively.

    One topic, that I’m not sure if you’ve covered is how spell check is changing how we communicate. While spell check provides needed help for many of us to avoid totally incomprehensive vignettes/texts, the errors that it produces are often comical because they often replace words randomly whereas traditional errors are often small or Freudian in nature.

    While it is not grammar related, it is related to spelling and technology and how they intersect. Or, for this discussion how they don’t correlate.

  2. Lindsay Pillow says

    Honored to be part of this post! In fact, I took a few more “justs” out of another email “just” yesterday. :)

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