Saturday, July 25, 2009

Watch your language

My take away from the discussion around the Gates-Crowley affair, especially after President Obama stepped into the mess, is simply to watch your language.


Crude and offensive language is wrong, period. When someone gets upset and the vitriol starts to flow, it creates an escalating situation. If both parties become engaged, they are now riding a toboggan on a slippery slope.

How do I know this?

I have worked on several help desks. When a customer calls in with a problem and they have reached an anger point, the tendency is to match anger with anger. That doesn't lead to a successful conclusion.

What should you do?

What does work for the recipient (you on the help desk) is to calmly let the caller vent. Let their steam run its course. When they realize that you are not escalating with them, when you are calmly and patiently waiting, they will begin to listen to themselves, realize what they are doing and calm down.

As President Obama rightly said, cooler heads should have prevailed.

The bottom line

Cool heads will prevail. Cool heads can help prevent the escalation by watching their language. Vulgar language, however 'socially acceptable' it has become, is inappropriate period.

Find a way to use some words other than vulgar language. The English language is full of opportunities. Find a way to duck it!