Building on yesterday–the reality of what and how you correct people is critical.

I posted an article on LinkedIn yesterday about being politically correct to the degree of effectively being rude. Yes, correctness is important, but when you raise the flag of the “right way” to speak you also have to be very careful that you yourself do not use phrases or words others consider offensive. That self-awareness alone should stop most people from correcting other people. To truly be politically correct you have to remember my grandfather’s golden rule. He would always tell me, “when you walk away make sure they understood the message you left.”

The reason I am bringing this up is that it leads back to inhibitors of inter-generational knowledge transfer. The traditional expert system in many organizations stifles the creative and innovative drive of younger employees so they leave in droves, starting their own companies and building their own empires. But the other side, the political correct speech impacts everyone as well. It impacts everyone from two directions. There are phrases that are politically correct for some groups of people that remain offensive for others. There are phrases that cause people to be uncomfortable. It is critical as we head down the path of building a system that we create an inclusive system.

So I am taking my grandfather’s rule and expanding it to create simple rules for speaking.

1. Make sure they understand what you meant and intended to say, and that you haven’t used a phrase or dialogue that they were offended by without you realizing it.

2. Don’t correct because you can, correct to help the other person grow.

3. Leave the other personal a way out with dignity. If you, speak or use phrases that offends them. Then when they offend you, they won’t care as much. If you take offense, you can’t create offense.

Three simple rules. Not hard to do at all. But based on my years of studying communications between people nearly impossible to implement. First off you have the righteous speaker. I am correcting you because what you are saying is wrong. Regardless of why you are saying it, it is wrong. The next one is the nit-pickier or grammar police. What you’ve said is a good ideology, but you actually said it in a way that isn’t grammatically correct.


For there to be a true launching of the information age, we have to be able to address these two core issues. I would love to say that in fact it is 99% an expert system problem. But it really isn’t the two issues above are actually bloody close to 99% of the problem.

Communications Patterns:

· The righteous corrector (once the meeting is done and the notes are being edited, they go through and remove everything that isn’t politically correct, all phrases that are offensive (like someone telling a speaker they are long winded, not needed take it out).

· The right way to write things notes modifier. I don’t have a better name for this person. Beyond cleaning up the things that shouldn’t be said (PC) they also make sure that the context is included. Someone speaking incorrectly because they are cracking a joke, needs to be noted in the notes. Context of incorrect speech is critical.

Communication Anti-Patterns:

· The righteous out loud during the meeting interrupting the speaker to point out that the word they used is not only wrong but it is offensive to 23 people that aren’t even in the room.

· The righteous flow destroyer: This person destroys the flow of conversation because they HAVE to correct people. It is their birthright, their reason for living, the point of their existence to reach out and fix the way everyone speaks.


Communications dreamer,