I’m not the best communicator in the world. I am a better writer than speaker. A family member once told me that I don’t understand the impact of my words. She said, “I swear to god, you talk like you’re autistic.”
That still makes me laugh. In my mind I am subtle, kind and generous. I am the queen of benevolence. But I can’t lie to myself (that much). I will admit that I have a tendency to be rude, abrupt and direct.
But I’ve earned that right by being right.
Except when I’m not.
One time, I ripped apart a colleague and called her dear. Youth is wasted on the young and I quickly realized that whenever you call someone dear or honey or sweetie, you are really calling that person a bitch. In 2012, I would just cut to the chase — but in 200x, I wasn’t so brazen. I had to hear an HR lady lecture me on the sexist use of the word dear and the point of my original argument was lost. I never made that mistake again.
Another time, I told a coworker to chill out. Have you ever been in a car wreck where time stops and you know something terrible has happened and you’re rationally trying to figure it all out while the airbag is exploding and glass is flying everywhere?
When you tell someone to chill out, you basically spit in her face. It’s demeaning. Insulting. It’s verbal trickery. You are saying, “You’re acting irrationally and everything you say or do is now invalid because your emotions are high. Are you on your period?”
I can see why she almost punched me in the throat.
So in summary: HR 101 taught me that if you ever want someone to chill out, don’t say it. You say everything but chill out. And if you want that person to stop behaving like a twat, you actually tell him to stop. You don’t tell ’em to chill.
But I want to go on the record. If I ever do tell you to chill out, I’m ready for you.
Come at me, bro.