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Welcome to Merge's Monthly Mega Minute - a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.

“Any” versus “Some”; one is better than the other

Your choice of words matters.  Take, for example, the polarity of the words “any” and “some”. 

“Any” is negatively polarized: it ordinarily occurs in declarative sentences that are negatively framed and usually inappropriate in those that are positively framed.  So, it is considered grammatically correct to say “I didn’t receive any reports”, but you would be unlikely to say “I received any reports”. 

By contrast, the word “some” is positively polarized: it typically occurs in positively framed declarative sentences but rarely in negatively framed ones.  Therefore, it is appropriate to say “I received some reports”, but not as common to say “I didn’t receive some reports”. 

But so what?  Does which word you use really matter?  Yes.  A 2007 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine had family doctors ask one of two questions of their patients during regular visits -- “Is there ANYthing else you want to address in your visit today?” or “Is there SOMEthing else you want to address in your visit today?”  Patients surfaced their concerns 78% more with the SOMEthing question than they did with the ANYthing question.  Simply by reframing the question to a SOME form, patients felt more encouraged and were willing to raise their issues and anxieties. 

Could these findings from this medical study be of value in the workplace environment?  Absolutely.  Whether you’re working with your staff, your co-workers, your managers, or your clients, try asking your questions using “some” rather than “any”.  Instead of “Is there anything else we need to consider?”, switch to “Is there something else we need to consider?”  You’ll be more likely to identify potential issues before they become larger problems.  Rather than “Is there anything else I can help you with?”, ask your clients “Is there something else I can help you with?”  Even if your clients have no additional requests, your positive phrasing positions you as considerate and caring.   

I’d love to know about your experiences when you try this?  Or perhaps you already have, and have observed success (or not)?  Do you have other examples of word choices that offer opposing polarity?  Please share your perspectives (both positive and negative) directly on the blog at

In The Globe and Mail: As video conferencing fatigue continues, here are 10 ways to make virtual team meetings engaging and fun

  • People are getting Zoomed-out, Meet-maxed, and Webex-weary.  So what’s a leader to do?  Find a way to make virtual team meetings engaging and fun, of course! Merge’s latest column in The Globe and Mail gives you 10 specific ways to do just that!

It's a new year, and we’re launching a brand-new video series on the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog

  • For those of you who are regular readers of the blog, you know that I did a video series last year that focused entirely on Productivity Tools for Leaders.  But since we’re now in 2021, it’s time to shake it up and do something different.  Next week I’ll be kicking off a brand-new video series focusing on tools to lead hybrid and virtual teams.  In case you didn’t know, a hybrid team is one where some staff work out of the office, and others work out of their homes.  And it looks that that will be our reality for most, if not all, of 2021.  So every 2-3 weeks, I’ll give you one specific and practical technique on Leading hybrid and virtual teams.  Stay tuned!

Turning Managers into Leaders

That Merge is celebrating her 7th anniversary as a columnist for The Globe and Mail?

Since January 2014, Merge has been a regular columnist for The Globe and Mail's Report on Business section, penning articles on a wide variety of leadership topics, all under the umbrella of Leadership Matters. Her first column – How to be the boss when your co-workers are your friends – ran on January 23, 2014, and just last month, she wrote her 66th column!  As video conferencing fatigue continues, here are 10 ways to make virtual team meetings engaging and fun is linked earlier in this issue of the Mega Minute.  Below are her all-time top five, some of which hit over 50,000 views in just the first few hours.  And if you'd like to peruse any of the others, including several that relate specifically to leadership issues arising from the pandemic, you can always find them in the Article Archives at our website.


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