Office Diaries

An insider's guide to success in the workplace

Mired in Political Correctness and Missing the Point

Do we even know what politically correct is anymore?

Boy, talk about the pendulum swinging one way and then back again. We started out in the "PC" revolution where it seemed that every descriptive label used in our language was called into question. Today, particularly in the workplace, that same political correctness has evolved and embedded itself into our corporate lexicon to the point that we don't even know it's there anymore.

But yesterday one of my business partners reminded me of just how crazy it was back when the whole "PC" movement began. We'd been talking about our days together at CHANEL when she recalled an exchange that took place during a big meeting with a major account.

Apparently, someone had asked her to describe someone else who had worked in one of the stores that we serviced. So she (my partner) went on to say that this person was, "short, brunette, with a bob and glasses." Seemed straightforward enough.  Well wouldn't you know, someone was offended? So much so that she requested my partner refer to short people as "vertically challenged individuals." In the meeting (as if there weren't probably more important things on the agenda) she went on to express her discomfort and dissatisfaction with the reference to calling a short person...well, short.

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But it makes you wonder. What was so wrong with the word "short" or being short for that matter? I found her need to rename it more offensive than anything. Short is short. And certainly, it's not bad. "Challenged" makes it sound as though you can't do something - like grow more - which you can't if you're short.  C'mon.  Which is worse?

 

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Krysalis

Donna Flagg is the author of Surviving Dreaded Conversations and a New York City-based dancer.

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