“Waddya mean by ‘hi’?”

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Publishing a blog created an interesting question for me:  Was I still allowed to voice an opinion?  Stay with me, it’s not as obvious an answer as it appears.

Even the youngest of you reading this have noticed the extreme sensitivity everyone has these days to, well, just about anything.  In my lifetime…let me digress a moment here.  I have now been alive long enough to make melodramatic comments about my age.  You know, “In over half a century on this earth…” and “When I was young, just after the Woolly Mammoth fossilized…”.  Stuff like that.  Yeah, over-the-top, but still true.

In my lifetime, I have watched the “PC” I grew up with, politeness and courtesy, devolve into this infectious disease called political correctness.  By this point in time, it has spread to epidemic levels.

Having spent the last quarter century (see?  I couldn’t just say 25 years, right?) in “Corporate America”, I have watched the freedom to interact with co-workers, bosses, employees and customers reduced to talcum-powdered, sanitized comments so devoid of life they barely spark a response.  It’s a bizarre dance of feigned politeness and civility, borne of fear.  Fear of reprisal, of misunderstanding, of intolerance.

Except, it doesn’t work.  If the comments themselves say nothing, people then look to find subtext within the comments or the speaker.  “That’s what he said, but what he reallymeant to say was…”  Of course, what he really meant to say was something equally harmless, just with a bit more personality behind it.  But the listener, not allowed to be spoken to like a person, “hears” things based on his mood at the time.  Or perhaps “overthinks” the comments and sees monsters under the bed.  Because the light, the ability to speak your mind clearly, has been unplugged.  Leaving most of us imagining what actual message was trying to be delivered.  And, in the darkness, our imaginations have a tendency to scare us.

Of course, most of the assumptions tend to be personal.  An assumed affront; an inferred insult; a veiled insinuation.  Perhaps it’s our natural skepticism in the generosity of others.  Perhaps it’s the competitive nature of the workplace.  Except the disease spreads well beyond the brick and mortar buildings.

Men and women have to second guess themselves before complimenting each other on their appearance.  The more colorful the personality, the more dangerous he is to the company that employs him.  Hiring and firing people becomes so entangled in rules attempting to guarantee “fairness” that it often creates situations that end up unfair to the company’s (and workers’) best interests.

As with most things, there were and are real reasons for rules and regulations.  But spraying a garden with defoliant to get rid of a few weeds tends to rot the rest of the garden.  At the very least, it stunts the growth.  I’ve watched people hesitate or apologize for innocent comments.  And I do mean innocent.  Decent, kind or congenial.  And I’ve also seen people react negatively to innocent comments.  Because, you know, that’s not what he meant to say.

Which brings us back to this blog.  If you haven’t deduced it by now, let me spell it out for you:  I’m decidedly non-“PC”.  I try to be honest without being blunt; tact should not be confused with “PC”.  So, in all honesty, I’m here to sell my book to you.  The blogs are an adjunct to that, a rambling group of topics to discuss with you and offer you insights into me and my writing style.

But, as Jeremy might ask, what if I irritate or annoy you with some comment or statement you misread (or, read just fine and simply mislike)?  Will it hurt my chance to sell you a book?  Will you be so incensed as to cause others to avoid my book?  It’s possible.  I’ve seen worse reactions from others.  So, should I not express my opinion at all and simply tell random tales of innocuous events in and around me?

Ah, but as I’ve mentioned, I don’t control what you “hear” when you read my blogs.  You do.  So, no matter what I write or how innocently I write it, I’m going to annoy someone.  It’s inevitable (just ask my family).  Which, thankfully, answers my question.  I can write whatever I want without consideration to the “new PC”.  I do, however, plan on remaining true to the PC I grew up with – politeness and courtesy.

I’m happy to have you reading my blogs and hope that if I do annoy you at some point, you’ll know it wasn’t personal.  I would be even happier if you all bought a copy of my book and recommended it to others (if you enjoy it).  Yeah, I’m sure you didn’t need me to tell you that, but I thought it would be good if I put it there.

Becuase, you know, that’s what I meant to say.

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