I am troubled with a problem and don’t know what to do.
I am part of a small group of people who have to work closely together to accomplish a particular task. Although this group is not work related and there is no compensation for the effort, it is, nonetheless, a “must work together” group effort that any one of us who would stop now would definitely end the effort. Stopping this project anywhere short of complete is not an option. Many people, in fact, are dependent on this task being accomplished.
My problem exists with one individual in a key leadership position who is faithful to the “F” word and harbors an often, intense, proclivity to use the word at the slightest inspiration.
I wince at the use of the word, which may be my own problem, but I also see the underlying effect that it is having on the group as a whole. Is there a substitute word that could be suggested in lieu of the “F” word? Or, is there a larger problem? Is this something that can be tackled individually? I am not a do-gooder with a propensity to fix the world and normally, how a person speaks is that person’s business. In this case, we all have to work closely together and it seems like we are walking on eggshells around this “F” person. What should, or can, I do?
Dear Language Examiner,
Personally, the “F” word in any professional environment is simply just not professional. To answer your first question; “Is there a substitute word for the “F” word?”, well there is fiddle-sticks, fudge, friggin’, but even those words sound silly and unprofessional. In short, the answer is, no.
If you are asking if this is a personal problem...I think it is. Your question specifically was, “Is this something that can be tackled individually?” Yes. It sounds like you are struggling with this matter personally because your inner moral compass is going haywire! Good for you! This kind of aggravation shows that you have a level of expectation and a standard in which you think individuals should conduct themselves in a professional setting. It is unfortunate that your leader does not share your same morals, but remember we do not live a perfect world. With that being said, in any situation where you feel out of control, always know that the one thing and one person you are in control of is yourself. You may not ever get through to the “F” person, but keeping yourself accountable to your own moral standards will set an example to the others in your work group.
It sounds like you are dedicated to working on this project. It also sounds like you are passionate about this project and what it can bring to the masses. Therefore it makes perfect sense that you would question the affect of negative energy surrounding the work atmosphere. Here are a couple of things to consider:
1. Is this project close to completion? If so can you just grin and bear the “F” person until completion? All the while knowing that for future projects, the “F” person will have to be confronted with his/her language issues or not be included at all.
2. If the “F” person is such a distraction to you and your co-workers then consider collectively making an effort to let the “F” person know that you all would appreciate him/her making better choices in words while working on this project.
It is always o.k. to confront someone when you think they are being destructive whether with words or actions in your presence. IT IS NOT o.k. to be just as ugly as they are. Hold yourself up to the same moral standard that you are holding them too and choose your words carefully, gently, and tactfully. It is unlikely that someone will respond to constuctive criticism when they are feeling attacked, judged or shamed. If a collective effort seems to harsh, consider approaching this person calmly, as a friend and in a private casual setting. Try not to make a big deal about it, maybe approach this situation as a passing conversation and see how it is received. From there you may be able to better read how or if this person is likely to react in changing his/her behavior.
If you are still confused about whether this is a personal issue or an issue for your group as a whole; even how to exactly approach the issue at hand, consider these words...
Matthew 7:3 (New International Version)
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Matthew 7:3 (The Message)
A Simple Guide for Behavior
1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
Always, before making efforts to correct someone’s “bad” behavior, remember to hold the mirror up to yourself first. It may help you approach the situation differently and more importantly help you to see the person in question in a different light.