(April 24, 2009) What you say and how you say it matters. The other side of the political correctness debate is a simple idea. Your language says a lot about how you see things. While I agree with Heather’s frustration, the proper alternative is not a free for all..
What you call people and how you say it can be offensive. You may be astonished (as I have been from time to time) at the way people react to the simplest cultural references. On the one side of the argument is being clear about what you mean. On the other side is being clear about what you don’t mean.
We’re all acutely aware of the damage that’s been done to inter-gender communication. As Heather noted, it’s now impossible to slide a compliment across the gender gap. Defeatists and agitators say this means we should end brute force language surveillance.
I think we have a good ways to go.
A huge part of the problem in our industry is that we are really imprecise with our language. The people of HR and Recruiting are willing to use unexamined language in a way that none of the other professions do. Ill conceived metaphors about human beings litter the HR landscape. Like most metaphorical conversation, the end result is bad communication when people start believing the literal meaning and missing the idea.
Here is a very simple idea. In the 21st Century, it is against the law almost everywhere, to own another person. Any language that hints at the idea of that kind of ownership is both offensive and misguided. It’s easy to slip and there are not readily available replacement words.
Human beings are not capital. They are not assets. They are not resources. They are not talent. Each of these ideas compares people to forms of wealth and raw material. Each of these notions objectifies people. It is demeaning. It is a bad way to communicate the underlying idea.
It makes for bad decision making.
People are not a list of skills and accomplishments. A job is not a buzzword search string. Work is not a formulaic application of capital to a task.
No, people are dynamic and complex. The way that they fit into jobs (or don’t) is surprising and mysterious. The very work that they do changes because they are doing it. The way that they interact with the team to produce results is only vaguely predictable. They seem to perform better in circumstances where trust and transparency are the norm.
In Heather’s assault on the Cult of Nice, she says:
The Cult of Nice demands that everyone conform to one set of rules that is politically correct, conflict-free and most of all, their way. It?s an insidious form of codependency where Nice is the highest good. The focus is entirely on the behavior of others and how it makes the cult member feel. It makes substantive discussion impossible.
Wah, wah, wah. Substantive discussion can’t take place when the fundamental language is demeaning. Ms Bussing’s answer is to kick away the constraints. But, in some cases, the rules are not harsh enough. Ironically, Heather’s position boils down to the same thing she argues against i.e., not making you feel bad makes me feel bad.
Meanwhile, we are letting our business leaders make gross judgment error by allowing them to think of the people who work for them as material objects.
So, the /component/option,com_jcalpro/Itemid,28/extmode,cats/”>how to get cialis next time you hear someone use the phrase “Human Capital”, please tell them that “Humans are not Capital, owning people is against the law.” If they backpedal and say, “I mean they are assets”, tell them that “people are not property of any kind”. Force the dialog.
In this instance, the question is better than all of the answers you could get.
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