I got a great question from a person I have mentored in the past. He asked me “are you saying that if I correct someone for being politically incorrect incorrectly I could be the one that is wrong?” So that is an interesting case of which the answer is yes. It is the covenant of conversation, the rules of communication. If in correcting offence, I am offensive the two cancel out. So, the minute you interrupt someone to day “your gender, nationality, color etc. statement isn’t acceptable” neither is what you said acceptable.
Pull them aside. Mention to them that there are better ways to say things. Don’t interrupt them. When you interrupt someone you are telling them that what they have to say is less important than what you have to say. That their point is well, a lesser point. One that your point encompasses and expands in a much better way than you ever could.
He responded “I get that. What I was actually asking about was the other argument you made. That if I say something that offends the person that offended me it’s also crossing that line.” Sadly, that is the case as well. There are phrases and things you say that offend people. Many are because of context. While context is a really hard thing to argue for it is in fact real. Reality of context is the perception created for the person hearing it. Phrases that offend, offend everyone. So as we move to the reality of politically correct inclusion, we must be inclusive of all meaning of our language.
“that sucks.” Was his response. I agree. It’s why I posted the original post. We have to be careful when we start down the inclusion path. First off more than anything on earth, actions speak louder than words. Words are emptiness. They are nothing. They bind the person uttering them to nothing other than their own moral and ethical contract with the person they are speaking with. To quote Faulkner “full of sound and fury, they signify nothing.”
It does suck. But it is the right thing to do. To be politically correct we need to embark on the journey of connection. To make sure what we say doesn’t hurt the person we are speaking with. When, someone makes a mistake, we pull them aside and let them know. We don’t interrupt them to pronouns in front of everyone just how important we are, and just how stupid that speaker is. We don’t speak in phrases or use phrases that are offensive. The royal we when referring to a group is offensive. There are many more phrases that offend without intent of harm but still it is offensive.
Perhaps, the best way to be inclusive is to following the easy rule we all learned in Kindergarten. The golden rule. It is doing onto others as you would have them do onto you (the variation that I know I learned is do onto others and then run!). If you are willing to be corrected, if you are willing to be interrupted than you may interrupt. You may correct. If you are not, and so far in my years on this planet I have NEVER MET ANYONE THAT IS, follow the golden rule.
If I practice not to offend and strive not to offend than I am a better communicator.
As I have been building the concept of an inter-generational knowledge transfer system I embraced the philosophy of Thomas Edison. In building the Edison Scale for information I note that Edison said “I never failed. I just found many ways that didn’t solve the problem.” The thing is each of the ways that didn’t solve the initial problem still have value. So if you disagree with the way someone says something, tell them one on one. Give them the off-line courtesy and they will return that to you. Inclusive communication means we strive not to offend with what we say, how we say it, or the volume at which we say it.
Golden Rule of Communication
· If I interrupt you, I am wrong even if I am interrupting you to correct something incorrect in what you’ve said
· If I use a phrase that offends you, pull me aside and tell me.
· If I talk louder than you do by a significant amount I apologize and will work to keep my volume down
· Our conversation is mutual.
· Our conversation has value.
· Together we are communicating.
My apologies to anyone I have offended with this blog, or anyone I have ever offended that I have spoken with. I am an imperfect speaker and working to become better.