It is unfortunate, but it is necessary to end this chapter on a negative note. As discussed in other articles, it is hard to find people that will disagree with the notion of treating individuals with dignity and respect. However, in many cases, the actions of others who readily and publicly claim to adhere to this statement seem to apply it selectivity. Their actions reflect the statement “Treat all Individuals with Dignity and Respect – Or Else!”
The “Or Else” clause is primarily due to one of three issues, fear of litigation, fear of regulation non-compliance, or “FOOOF”; an acronym that will be defined below. The litigation and regulation issues that every company faces or will soon face often cause decisions to be made that are not in the best interest of the company or the employee. A good example of this is discussed in the article in this collection “Fair versus Equal”. Most laws and regulations, with good intentions, require equal treatment with little regard to what is actually fair. Other examples are the laws and regulations that require different company actions and responsibilities when a certain number of employee threshold is reached. To avoid additional government imposed burdens, some companies restrict full-time employment level to the threshold by, for example, limiting employee hours or shifting positions to third parties or moving jobs off-shore.
The acronym, “FOOOF” stands for Fear Of Offending Others Fixation”. It has its roots in the fear of litigation and the overused excuse of political correctness. Clearly, all of us must be sensitive to others, but recently we have seen extreme cases of the “PC Police” in action. “Outlawing” terms such as “boy” and “girl” by the United States Air Force, fearing that the terms might be offensive, is a good example. It is entirely possible that every noun and every verb might possibly offend someone. Again, as previously discussed, if you look for the worst, you are seldom disappointed. Instead of helping the situation, many of the “outlawed” words are simply said underground, in closed settings in which individuals do not fear being exposed for their presumed insensitivity.
Perhaps the worst aspect of the “Or Else” clause is the binary application of the dignity and respect axiom. It involves “selective civility”. It has become ever-present and almost an accepted behavior. The news media and, certainly Internet social media forums, display vivid examples of selective civility every day, perhaps, every hour or minute. It does not matter which side of an issue or belief one has, virtually all positions are guilty of selective civility. The practice is quite simple; for those individuals and organizations that agree with a person, that person applies the notion of treating them with dignity and respect. However, for those that do not agree, look out; personal attacks and other equally offensive actions are fair game. Quite often, the result is the attacked person or organization responds in like kind, creating a negative spiral of even worse attacks. Examples are everywhere.
These negative behaviors which seem to be increasing, need to be addressed by everyone. There can be no sideline spectators. To return to “kinder and gentler” days, all of us must show intolerance for intolerance! Intolerance for intolerance is not an oxymoron or a recursive statement as it may seem. It is intended to prompt individuals to call out selective civility when they see it. The goal is to make selective civility politically incorrect!
Think about the full-circle nature of this approach: Be intolerant and use the fear of political correctness to wipe out selective civility! It may sound silly using this statement, but all of us need to call the question and stop selective civility in its tracks.