I’ve never been accused of being politically correct, so I’m sure this will offend all the PCer’s out there who love the idea. For all my working life, I have been told to be politically correct and sometimes I was lucky to find work situations where I could just be myself. The fun thing is, in those situations, I out performed the politically correct groups, hands down. This really doesn’t come as any surprise to me, because political correctness really is a self imposed limiting influence on performance.
Political correctness has its roots in Stalin’s communist era. He wasn’t a big fan of business, or the fundamentals of capitalism. So it is rather curious why we today choose to self impose this outdated idea upon us on such a wide scale. It is actually quite funny when you think about the logic behind it, yet on another level, really disturbing.
The root of political correctness is that you don’t want to offend anyone. Well I can honestly tell you that I have never offended a single person in my entire life. No I’m serious, not one person on this Earth has ever been offended by me. Now there are a lot of people walking around who will claim I have offended them, yet I assure you, I never have. And on the opposite side, no one has ever offended me, despite my many accusations that they did, at the time. No one really can offend you, unless you let them.
Where does an offense come from? Does the speaker create it? No, if I call someone an illegal, they may feel offended, yet did I really offend them? No, I did not impose on them how to react to that word, I did not impose on them how to define that word, I did not impose on them the emotions they tied to that word. So I can’t really offend anyone because I am not the decider of the offense. We offend ourselves; the true root of an offense is in the listener, not the speaker. It is childish and irresponsible of us to blame someone else for our own reaction to something, yet we all do it. This very backwards logic of being offended is what drives political correctness. Yet truly the root of it is flawed and as a result, we censor our words and thoughts and this is truly what hurts business and people.
I’m always saying, “people drive the numbers,” and they do and to get them to drive the numbers in a positive direction, it helps to have an environment where people can feel ok to express themselves without fear of some backlash for saying what they really think. It is in the listener to be mature enough to take a time out and examine what belief is driving them to feel offended, this helps a lot more than trying to get people to censor themselves. Why do we punish someone for saying something our 3rd grade teacher told us was offensive, that teacher is probably retired in Florida and doesn’t even remember what he or she said, so why do people hold other accountable for that believe of an offense decades later? Who really is offending whom in this situation? It would be a lot more just and humane to really examine what in your past triggered your feeling of offense, often it has nothing to do with the speaker. But it is a lot harder to do that and frankly, some people in power don’t want you speaking up, some organizations don’t want you to say what you really think of their new product or project and use political correctness to squash dialogue which then reduces productivity as well. But some organizations do it because they were told that being politically correct was the “compassionate” way to lead.
I honestly don’t see the compassion in censoring people from expressing who they are, nor is it compassionate to allow people to act on emotions of hurt and lash out at others instead of telling them they should deal with the root issues, it’s probably better on their health to be frank and tell them they shouldn’t be so offended by what people say, think how many times you’ve seen someone get tensed up and worked up over something someone said, can’t be good for the nerves.
In teams where we let people be who they are and say what they want, things got done and issues were dealt with fast and more accurately than teams that were more concerned with what they said and how. You take the politics out and people just get real and you realize how much of all that stuff really doesn’t matter when you take it out of the equation. Those who can’t handle it will move on, those who can will stay and thrive and that’s what happens. Things get done and they get done faster, which is the whole idea of business, you make more money that way!
At the end of the day, political correctness is a flawed idea whose time should be relegated to the history books. If you feel someone has offended you, they haven’t. Sure, there are a lot of people who say things with the intent to offend, but really, they can’t hurt you unless you give them that option. So if you don’t give them the option and own your thoughts and emotions, nobody can truly harm you in that fashion.