Bad word, bad word

My wonderfully efficient and effective Administrative Assistant for many years was the epitome of customer service. She had better customer service instincts than many consultants both internally with colleagues and externally with clients. She was also a very devout woman and you would never hear a curse word cross her lips.

Yet, she would get angry from time to time like we all do. So, if she was really annoyed with some mix-up or maltreatment, I would hear her say “bad word, bad word.” That was her way of cursing. No four letter expletives, just the same two words repeated twice. Very few of us can live up to that kind of exemplar.

Many who follow this blog know I do not give much credence to name-calling or labels. It weakens the argument of the user, as they tend to be shortcuts to defamation of another person or group. I do my best to avoid them, but of course, I do mess up. Yet, I try to focus on the deceitful words or actions than call the espouser a liar. I also try to avoid using those bad words in print, maybe using asterisks are the infamous acronym of BS.

What continues to trouble me is with social media so pervasive and the managers of such tools like the one (Facebook) which is getting scrutiny in Congress as we speak, we have entered into a post-truth society. The truth continues to have to work hard to keep its head above the surface. A social media expert said this weekend misinformation is six times more likely to be read and routed than the truth. And, that company who denies they know this is not being very forthcoming so says a whistleblower. Ads are how they make money, so the more read posts make more money for them.

I have used this example many times but Vladimir Putin’s early career was in disinformation for the KGB. Today, as the leader of Russia, stories by former TV producers and media people speak of Putin having a very active role in various communication channels. But, this does not surprise me because of the controlling nature of the country.

It is troubling the former US president is a huge fan of Putin’s. Though, what bothers me most is not the former president has a penchant for using untruths to tell a story he wants to tell. Based on his well-documented history, I expected these actions. What bothers me most are those acting like sycophants and rationalizers to grease the skids for the untruthful narrative and provide air cover for such stories.

It should not take so much political courage to stand up and call out the untruthful stories. Yet, it does. The folks who do get vilified and even receive death threats. And, they know this going in and still call the lying out. The folks could have been past supporters, but get ostracized for saying even the simplest of things that contradict the untruthful narrative.

So, many staff and public servants have been removed for daring to call out the untruthful behavior. That should speak volumes, but simply is not getting inside the communication channels of those who really need to hear it. This is where the rationalizing is used to sand around the edges of a bad story or deny its truth.

It truly makes you want to curse. Bad word, bad word. So, now that I feel better, what can we do? Reach out to legislators who do the right thing and thank them. Reach out to them with concerns, as well, but do your best to avoid name calling and labelling. Write comments to others like you would want to receive them – focus on brief, civil discourse. And, listen to people, not to respond, but to understand. If there is a place where you can find agreement, even on the smallest of issues, start there.

Here are a few themes to bear in mind:

-we need legislators to focus more on passing needed legislation than trying to score victories. Focus on doing your job, not keeping your job.

-we need legislators to focus on the truth more than they are doing. You owe it to us. Governing is hard enough with the facts – when people use lies, it is nigh impossible.

-when an incumbent or former incumbent denigrates the office or our country through his or her actions, the party to which he or she belongs should not try to cover up such action. The party should be leading the effort to right wrongful behavior.

On this latter point, there are many examples where entities failed to heed this advice and paid for it with damaged relationships, tarnished brands and the loss of huge sums of money – think the Catholic Church, the US Olympic Gymnastics Team, the Boys Scouts of American, Enron, Adelphia, Tyco International, The PTL Club, etc. for both financial fraud or sexual assault convictions and claims.

So, instead of bad word, bad word, we should be able to say good job, good job for those who do the right thing..

26 thoughts on “Bad word, bad word

  1. Many years ago, I was in a position to counsel others – a role which requires responsible interaction. I would always ask myself: How is this helpful? before initiating a path of discussion, choosing to focus on the practical and progressive. Politicians need a foundation from which to practice based on service to the greater good

  2. Note to Readers: A quick story on this wonderful AA. She knew it was important to help traveling guest consultants to serve our local clients. One had an early morning Board meeting she was flying down for the night before. On the plane ride down, she noticed a bad financial typo that needed to be remedied. She called my AA, who came in early, fixed the typo and re-binded new presentations for the Board of Directors. She then called the guest consultant to let her know they were ready and delivered them to her hotel room. How did the consultant know the AA’s cell phone? – because the AA left her a message saying if you need anything, please call this number. That is service. The consultant said the AA saved her hind end, using a word the AA would not use herself.

  3. Six times more likely to read/ click on misinformation. Yikes. Also six times more likely to listen if violent, sex material, also curse words: video games and entertainment. So what, precisely is legislation to control Facebook et al? Big task for legislatures. Double Yikes.

    • Bumba, we cannot count on legislation to police Facebook. People will have to ask more questions and questions sources. To me, it is like whack-a-mole. If we beat the misinformation down on Facebook, it will just crop up elsewhere. As long as there are Russian, Iranian, Chinese and even some US trolls, with spreaders like InfoWars, QAnon, Donald Trump, Alex Jones, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson et al, people will need to be earnest and diligent about stemming the tide of misinformation. Keith

      • Fundamental problem is that people can’t identify lies and liars, which is something I was able to do at age 6 or 7. There are laws against monopolies, there’s an FCC. They never made laws to regulate corporations. You can’t depend on businesses to be honest . Trust and verify. Facebook can’t police itself. It’s a real problem.

      • Bumba, thanks for your thoughts. There are laws and accounting rules for corporations (CEO pay, insider trading, FAS, interlocking boards, collusion, etc.), but they do not catch or restrict all who need watching. Transgressions can range from aggressively legal means to fraudulent means and everything in-between. An easy example is buying back shares to dress up low earnings per share numbers. Nothing illegal, but it is aggressive since the company cannot grow the numerator, so they shrink the denominator to increase EPS for bonus determinations. Board members do not complain as they do the same thing at their companies. Keith

  4. I will keep the phrase in mind. I love her way of releasing her anger. Indeed, sometimes it is not easy to keep calm and not curse when seeing those people, who are supposed to lead their country and take care of its inhabitants, acting in ways that are the opposite of what we taught our children.

  5. Swear words are losing their impact. In fact if I see one in a description or an interview interest drops to ‘let’s go somewhere else’.
    That said in our house, if we both happen to be using laptops at the same time, the language would do justice to an armed forces barracks…. We all have our limitations.
    Since approximately 2005 (just a date taken out of thin air), with the amount of hoo-ahh spread about by 9/11 conspiracists, Brexit, the denials of short comings by both US Right and UK Left and their attendant vilifications of those who oppose them, to name but a few I am beginning to doubt the veracity of claims which even appeal to my own views (or prejudices- yes we all have them).
    I belong to a FaceBook group whose original mission statement was to form a cohesive alliance of all political parties of left, centre and very moderate Right with a view to promoting tactical voting and thus dispose of the current government. Naturally this has been subsumed in a flood of other opinions mostly from disaffected Corbyn followers, Tory-aphobes (I made that one up) and folk who just wish to complain; thus I tend to skip the larger number of the posts which claim certain things to be facts.
    The use of judgement, balancing one opinion against another, or ‘reading the runes’ / subtext seems to be a dying art.

    • Roger, subtext is a dying art, which is why I appreciate your point of view. What you offer is grounded in history and experience. I was watching the most credible of public servants, Dr. Fiona Hill, who was the best witness in the first Trump impeachment trial. This very learned and experienced person said yesterday because Trump is so ego-maniacal, he is easily manipulated by other entities, foreign and domestic. He has also damaged relationships abroad, so America’s credibility has suffered, as has our democracy. Keith

      • Fiona Hill was there at the centre and unlike many who passed through the Whitehouse between 2016 to 2020 is qualified and experienced in her craft. Therefore her words must carry weight.
        The most worrying aspect of Trump upon the political scene is he is there because tens of millions want him there.
        He is in effect a manifestation of an undercurrent of suspicions and fear by a section of the White population that they will lose their privileged position. It is difficult to argue any other case for the continued toleration of him on the political landscape.

      • True. And, the subject of their cognitive dissonance is also the same person who tells them to ignore the truth tellers who cause the dissonance when the truth tellers are critical of said person. Keith

  6. Keith you call out labelling and dissemination of fake information by social media for the purposes of advertising revenue. Well done! Particularly I liked this wisdom of yours: “listen to people, not to respond, but to understand.” We know that this is the right thing to do but many of us don’t concentrate fully on doing that and so fail to move forward in agreement. I think a focus on fully listening for understanding will be my intention for tomorrow and onward! (as today is nearly over here).
    On the point of government, impeded legislation and untruthful narratives: I do agree. REcently Australia had a terrible era of government – one that should have been a time of pride – when we had elected our first female leader.
    Unfortunately, the lies, name-calling, labelling and wholesale vilification she sustained during her leadership was disappointing and disturbing. Very bad words. Very bad words! Leading a minority government, they sought to rattle and de-stabilise her. It didn’t work. That term of government ended up passing the highest number of legislation from any previous regime. But then the leader was the one that makes or breaks the outcome.

    • Amanda, thanks. The listening to understand part would go a long way to improving civil discourse and civility. In our country, we tend to govern by sound bytes not resolving issues. I do get very tired of even credible news sources identifying who wins and loses per issue, rather than who benefits and what is the cost.

      From this hemisphere, it looks like critics were grossly unfair to your first female prime minister. As you know, female leaders in any organization have to have a thicker hide than their male counterparts. A strong woman with opinions is often referred to as a bitch, eg, whereas a man would not be called something similar just for being strong.

      Some of the worst criticism came from a few conservative radio hosts in Australia toward Greta Thunberg, a hero in my book. These blokes vilified her and went on about her being on the autism spectrum to try and discredit her. I have seen Thunberg speak and I witnessed her handling of a heckler with the aplomb of an experienced public speaker.

      Right now, I am witnessing once again the former US president name calling Dr. Fiona Hill for her raising concerns about the danger to democracy the former president poses. She is one of the most credible public servants I have seen and hers is a voice of experience. Ironically, the Achilles Heel for the former president has always been a strong woman armed with facts. He simply is outgunned.


      • Once again Keith, you give us a pearl of wisdom: it is not about “who wins and loses per issue, rather than who benefits and what is the cost.” I will include that in my Sunday reflections post, if I may?
        I like that you have also called out the appalling words of those shock jock from the radio station. That is their end game to discredit anyone that threatens their views. They appeal to bogan Australians – at its core it is highly disrespectful and derogaty and I love that Greta is able to handle it. Good on her. She is inspirational and quite simply extraordinarily talented for her age.
        To reference your comment again, Greta and I assume Dr Hill hasn’t won against the critics, they have formulated an articulate, respectful response. A wonderful role model for others of all genders.

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