Business Communications and Political Correctness
posted on November 30, 2009
A question was recently posted at LinkedIn, asking if political correctness was an enabler of effective communications or a hindrance. Goodness knows this is a subject of some discussion in various quarters (not to say "heated debate"). And when you are in a business highly dependent on good relationships and referrals, you certainly don't want to limit your earning potential by getting the answer wrong. I'm not going to claim to have all the answers, but here's how I answer that question in my own life:
Don't worry about being "politically correct." Worry about being tactful. Worry about being kind. Worry about being respectful. Worry about being cognizant of the other guys' feelings. Or, better yet, don't worry about any of this; just *be* tactful, kind, respectful, and cognizant of the other guys' feelings. If you accidentally offend someone in the process, apologize. Some people get very sensitive and perceive a lack of respect where none was intended. That's because they've lived a life full of a lack of respect and they come to expect it. You can't change that, but you can be aware of it and do your best to be empathetic. And if they don't want to accept your genuine apology, then you weren't going to have a chance anyway.
The other thing is "trying" to be politically correct. There are some words and phrases that are well-known to be offensive. Using them is just plain dumb. It's thoughtful to make an effort to use terms that are acceptable to the listener, but really, if you need to find an "acceptable" way to say it, maybe you should think about not saying it at all. People who are genuinely tactful, kind, respectful, and cognizant of the other guys' feelings don't need to try to be politically correct. Political correctness is just a substitute for genuine tact, kindness, and respect.
The real enabler of effective communication is tact, kindness, and respect. "Political correctness" is a cheap substitute.
Author: Richard Dodson
Categories: Professional Training and Coaching
Tags: Communications, politically correct, relationships