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Anthony's Dilemma: Importance of Inclusive Language

Updated on June 17, 2015

Inclusive language is important when communicating in class forums because it avoids stereotyping and hierarchy among social classes thus making it a crucial part of business etiquette. Being mindful on how you phrase your word and interact with your colleagues not only would say much about you in terms of eloquence but of your social manners and efficacy in terms of interpersonal relationship which is important in any business.


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The problem with Anthony’s letter was it is very sexiest. It uses words such as “guys”, “good old boys”, “any man”, and “business lady” that made the letter’s audience exclusively for men when in fact, Anthony have a female classmate. It also sounded very unprofessional and unstructured with the very casual tone of the letter. To avoid making the same mistakes again, Anthony should ensure to polish his letter ensuring that it is formally structured and uses inclusive language.

Some tips that could help polish Anthony’s letter and avoid making the same mistakes is to rather than using “hi guys!” for a salutation, Anthony could use “Dear colleagues”. This way, not only will his letter sound more formal, it would also de-gender it making it more inclusive of both sexes. Moreover, since he is giving out advice to business professionals like himself, he should rethink of using masculine pronouns. Again, the best option is to make it gender-neutral by making it a plural indefinite pronoun or he could use both male and female expressions if it is more appropriate.

Another thing that Anthony should steer clear of is to avoid making false assumptions that all managers are men. By stating “all the managers and their wives…” Anthony made three stereotyping already: that job position of managers are only reserved for men, that men are the head of the families, and that wives only takes care of the children. To steer clear of such prejudices, better make use of both their names when addressing them, if the women’s names are unknown, just say “spouse”.

And lastly, since the letter’s audience are business colleagues, Anthony should address each people in a professional manner by their position. He can’t use “business lady”, or “good old boys”. Rather, Anthony should use “business (etiquette) coach” or “managers” in reference to their position as a sign of respect and professionalism.

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    • lee custodio profile image
      Author

      lee custodio 7 years ago

      Points well taken. I have to agree that inclusive language merits the circumstance. But for this particular scenario--corporate setting, formal communication, etc. I do think that it qualifies some form of sensible decorum.

      But yeah, I myself do use "guys" to refer to both male/female friends. Again, it’s not re-gendering words; it’s being sensitive by using inclusive language to avoid alienating certain group/s.

      Thank you for the exhaustive and insightful comment, much appreciated. :)

      --Lee

    • Harlan Colt profile image

      Harlan Colt 7 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

      I agree with you and yet, I don't. By that I mean - I understand and allow a pass for Anthony's uneducated or limited knowledge on the subject. At some point we have to step up to the plate and recognize that such usage of language out of ignorance is not offensive. Offensive is on purpose. If I say something to you that is offensive, but it is completely obvious it is out of ignorance and unintentional, then I expect you to be big enough to let it slide on by - at least once, and let me know it offends you at an appropriate and private time.

      Certainly, you are and should be welcome and encouraged to say, Hey, I find that offensive because - XYZ.

      However, at some level it is not unreasonable to show tolerance to someone who is obviously ignorant. Ignorance of such things, is similar to one with a mental disability who does not understand it is impolite to call someone certain unacceptable and profane pronouns - up until that person understands the offence.

      I think to scold someone who ignorantly says something offensive in public or even to stop an entire discourse to take issue with their ignorance is even more cruel and insensitive than the offence committed by the ignorant person. It makes the protester a selfish and complete social ass -in my opinion - if they do not handle the situation with grace and obvious forgiveness.

      In gender specific terminology, women do not all inclusively help in this situation either, often in their daily discourse they blur the lines here. Far too often I have heard a woman speak to a room of men and women and begin her dialog with - "Ok you guys..." referring to both men and women in the room. Likewise, my teen daughter calls her female friends, "dude." Which I personally find confusing, however, it shows that language is an evolutionary process and hardline PC rules face certain failure over time.

      I do however, completely agree and concede to your point that in matters of business, one should default on the side of professional business etiquette, and if you are that ignorant of such things, you shouldn't be in a position to be writing professional business letters - if only we lived in a perfect world.

      Forgive me I don't mean to disagree with you, and largely I do not, I simply see reason for prioritizing such things as to what and when to take issue with. It is definitely a sticky slope and given our melding world full of culture and even micro-cultures within cultures, I think we need to just all lighten up a little on the whole PC game. I think most of us are smart enough to understand the difference when someone intends to offend us, and when they are just too ignorant to realize that they are and affording those nimble minded dolts a bit of grace and forgiveness as one would a person suffering from downs syndrome.

      I guess it really all depends on the present environment and the circumstances at the time.

      Good hub dude!

      LOL sorry I couldn't resist!

      - Harlan

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