Apparently, I am capable of offending people with words. Not intentional offense or insulting phrases or titles, just words. Not even words taken in context but simply as the listener wishes to interpret them. When I arrive at work with less caffeine than the recommended daily dose, and grumble, “morning” to a coworker. I am a rude person who doesn’t know how to talk to people. Hours later, I sit in the supervisor’s office for an intervention. “Let me get this straight. I tried to be social, I wasn’t nice enough?”
“That’s the wrong way to look at this. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it that effects others.”
“So, I should just ignore them? I was trying to be polite, but that doesn’t matter?”
“Micro-aggression can create a hostile work environment. If it is not addressed, we could be sued. They can file an EEO complaint. Look, just try to be nicer.”
“Lieutenant, we’re supposed to be cops. If they can’t take harsh language, they need to find another job.” (Note: This conversation was edited for language content and expletive, because I still needed more coffee.)
Seriously! I sat through a four hour lecture on micro-aggression last week. While we have riots going on, officers are being attacked, spit on, hit with bottles and generally abused and told NOT TO RESPOND. I had a class on micro-aggression. Here is the funny part, the passive aggressive response of sicking the boss on me for being impolite…is micro-aggression. I learned that in the class. When I pointed it out, it was explained that the other person didn’t feel strong enough to confront me personally and needed intervention. That is what made it aggressive on my part.
Maybe what we need is a color code system to identify our level of susceptibility to harsh words.
White – Please don’t look to hard, long or aggressively.
Pink – Sensitive in specific ares. SEE ADDITIONAL color code list to determine unsafe areas. Just assume that if you do not agree with every politically correct view and cause, you’re wrong.
Green – Generally resilient, occasionally touchy. Just a normal person who is not trying to be offended by everything that they don’t agree with. May snap back or take a swing.
Blue – Not offended by much. Gallows humor and sick jokes are funny and will probably be repeated. Will take limited abuse and not care. If offended will retaliate with appropriate, limited force. You probably deserved it.
Black – If you can offend this person, you are really trying. If you manage to succeed, be prepared to be punched, kicked, stabbed, shot or monkey stomped. You deserved it.
I’m fairly sure my insensitive response is another example of my insensitivity. I don’t care. Next week, I’m going back to work with a bunch of people who wear blue shirts and black pants (see color codes). We will attempt to protect a group of people who say they are open minded, but refuse to accept that others have the right to disagree with them, who will often attack anyone who disagrees with them, and then cry about the aggressive behavior of others. WTF?