I communicate with my clients every day, and my emails tend to be more conversational than formal since I like to think I have a good rapport with each of them. Actual conversations are the same.
Lately, however, I’ve been editing my emails more than usual. I find myself deleting phrases and finding new ways to say things because I don’t want to offend — or risk offending — anyone.
I used to ask for approval on things in such informal terms as, “Let us know when you’re ready to pull the trigger on the media plan.” I’ve stopped using that phrase.
Have a question for me? “Fire away” or “Shoot” would be common replies. No more.
When it’s time to do something we’ve been postponing for a number of reasons, bite the bullet seems like a potentially less than ideal phrase. I’ve replaced it with one of my personal favorites that I’ve recently pulled out of storage and dusted off, since “Get ‘er done” seems to be a crowd pleaser.
None of these phrases offends me, but it seems like every time I turn around, there’s another shooting in the news; another school on lockdown, another neighborhood terrorized, another law enforcement officer killed, another innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time. With each instance, there’s a ripple effect. More people are affected, therefore more people know people who were affected. Who’s to say that one of my clients in New York wasn’t personally affected by the Sandy Hook shootings — or that they have a friend or relative who was? Nope, I don’t mind these phrases at all. But if you look around and see how close to home these things can hit, it makes me want to shelve them for a while.
I was talking with a coworker about these phrases the other day, and how I’ve stopped using them — at least outside of my friends and family circle.
“Really? Do you think we’re there?” was the response.
I said I wasn’t sure, but that I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m not the biggest math person, but here’s some that makes sense to me: the litigious nature of our society coupled with what feels like a general decline in common sense multiplied by seemingly irrational reactions of people make me think that we’re not too far off — particularly if people take offense at something as ridiculous as a t-shirt that someone wears, and said event makes the news.
I don’t have any answers. I don’t know if this is going too far or if it’s reasonable and logical. Conversely, I also don’t think that my breakup with a few phrases will do anything in the grand scheme of our gun-centric climate. But in my focus group of one, it’s reasonable for me. To others, it might be ridiculous and unnecessary — perhaps even irrational. But to each his own, and while I’ve never been a fan of my ability to overthink things (like I seem to be doing in this case), thinking is never a bad thing — especially when it precedes speaking.