Words and acts have meaning. They start wars, lead to marriages and divorces, initiate and close deals, and affect what we say, do, think and how we respond to our daily life events. We witnessed their awesome impact again following the tragic events in Orlando, Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and now Dallas. I’ve updated this piece three times in the past two weeks struggling to find the right words while absorbing the awful reality of more needless injury, death and grief.
It has been said that the pen is mightier than the sword – this is truer now than ever before. Our words and related acts can be transmitted not only by what we say or write in local publications but also via the broad network of written and video communication that has exploded in just the past two decades. Sadly, every day we see the awful destruction which the less “mighty” swords render triggered by the mass communication “keystroke pens” of our age.
Still, some say our words and related acts must not be limited to that which is “politically correct.” One often heard argument is that it’s wrong to monitor what we say because we have a right to speak our minds even though doing so may lead to “collateral damage” harming others. That’s just not right. The greater risk is that our unfiltered words and acts can inflict widespread reactive rage, nonproductive divisiveness, mistrust and public harm. We’re seeing that almost every day. I say it’s time for us to guard our words and acts to be “humanely correct.”
Surely it is impossible to thwart every intentionally violent act whatever the underlying cause or target. Yet, in a small way, each of us can lower the “environmental heat” that our words and acts can generate. This will help us understand one another better and defuse some problems before they escalate into tragedy. That’s one key reason why we’ve urged workplace leaders and team members to be careful about what they say and do. It’s not to avoid confronting problems but to behave in a way which can help address, rather than worsen, them.
Our great nation has thrived on the rich mixture of peoples characterized by differences in race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and points of view just to mention some of the many elements which vary among us. In our workplaces, I believe we share a humanely correct responsibility to consider what we can do and say, or should not do and say, to bring us together rather than drive us apart.