Politicians have always criticized one another. However, until recently some superficial civility was exercised when confronting one another. This is not the case anymore. Any communication etiquette that we once had is now gone. There are no limitations as to what one can say to another human being even if it promotes hate.
The atmosphere of today’s world is that people say whatever they want to one another without any barriers including using language that is racist, sexist, heterosexist, ageist, ableist, and etc. The use of derogatory language and rhetoric aimed at humiliating and shaming others is now normal and may even be expected. The media and our current political candidates avidly reinforce the acceptability of disparaging and belittling of others.
We have developed the understanding that our own thoughts and feelings are the only thing that matters and we can express those however, we see fit. I no longer have to worry about the impact of what I am saying on others. Self-expression and free speech are important because we operate under the assumption that “I am the only one that matters and my words take precedent over others feelings.” However, this thinking is extremely flawed and problematic. It encourages hostility and resentment that overflows into the workplace causing workplace aggression and violence.
What we say and think affects the overall environment we live in. We are all interdependent in society and in the workplace. As such, how we treat and communicate to one another matters. We need to remember to think before we speak and most importantly, we do not have to speak everything we think. We can communicate our thoughts and feelings in a way that is not offensive and that does not promote hate. We still have the right to free speech, but saying what we want in a respectful and considerate way is the right thing to do.
Today, I challenge each of us be kinder and more thoughtful in how we use words and to call out people who are using offensive language. All of us need to start doing more of the right thing.
If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at jankircher.com. Help is out there.
- Written byJan Kircher