Working and being present in many different contexts leads to a variety of perspectives. Some times, I hear interesting things said and observe questionable acts or expressions. Other times, I hear about what was said. Over the past couple of weeks, I have heard a number of things which have made alarm bells go off in my head. I am going to share four of those such things and offer some reflection afterward.
These are things I have heard directly or about lately:
1) “Good to see you. You have been living the good life lately. You have put on some pounds!”
Now, this might be acceptable in private among good friends. But its not really relevant or team building in the workforce. Considering that this exchange happened at the start of a meeting, it nearly discredits and paralyzes the person being told this. How would you feel if you were told something like this at the start of what was going to be a multiple hour long meeting? Obviously, I don’t find it to be particularly appropriate. It’s awkward. There are assumptions being made without actual concern for health, perhaps other factors, let alone, a pure level of discomfort for the topic in general.
2) “I lead out of the fear of losing members.”
I give credit to the person (a pastor) who uttered this honestly. It’s important to be honest about oneself. I am sure this sentiment is sadly true of many. But if you get past the statement, leading out of fear in general is not healthy. Leading out of fear in the church, is not much of leading within the promise of the gospel. The focus then becomes numbers- how many people can we get in the doors, rather than how deep are we helping people grow in their relationships and understanding that they are God’s children. Yes, its important to be reaching out into the community and welcoming and inviting. But if you lead with a sole focus on numbers, and particularly on the numbers of people you have currently, you risk sacrificing the beauty and challenge of the gospel for what people would rather hear. Leadership isn’t easy. Theological and faith leadership certainly isn’t either. But is it supposed to be? I don’t think so. Fear is okay and a human trait in leadership. However, if one is leading out of a fear of losing members, it could be asked, are they really leading? Leadership in this sphere I believe begins with the calling, the scriptures, and the larger church. Leading doesn’t begin or revolve around “losing members.” If this is the focus, the church really has just become a country club or membership based society.
3) “What’s new and sexy?”
This obviously depends on context. I would never recommend using this in a meeting, and frankly would never really ever utter such a question. There is too much potential for it being derogatory, inflammatory, insensitive, and inappropriate. Among friends and private, this might be common. But in order to steer clear of any potential harm and conflict, please use instead, “what’s new and exciting?” It largely means the same thing, and it doesn’t have nearly the problem, challenge, or potential for discomfort.
4) “I’ll have my girl call your girl, and they’ll set something up.”
Is this sort of language really still being used in 2014? Apparently and terribly, yes. Not only is this insensitive and sexist, it is also derogatory and disrespectful. The women who are in employees in these companies are being referred to as “girls” in a most condescending way. Never mind that they both of these women likely have college degrees and larger career aspirations. There is no place for this in the workplace. Period.
I would presume that any of these four statements, and things like them, are what end up the subject of Human Resource related conversations and meetings (and rightfully so). What do you think?
Have you ever uttered these or like phrases in the presence of others? How were they received? Do you have other sort of “no-no” or “do’h” statements that you would add to this list? Any experiences lately of going “what were they thinking?”
Image Credit: Doh.