Has political correctness gone mad? Today, the meteoric rise of political correctness is no secret, and it’s here to stay—at least for now. However, the extent to which political correctness influences innovation and creativity is unknown. And how far can the younger generation take initiatives that might offend an individual or special interest group out of the box?
The full effect of political correctness gone mad continues to wash over Europe and the U.S.
And in some European societies, people are taking political correctness to extremes. The mere expression of certain opinions is considered blasphemous. This politically correct environment leads individuals to fear expressing their views. They must always consider the feelings of others while hiding their own. And by extension, they work only within the framework that society provides them.
I am opposed to this level of political correctness. What was once dull and inoffensive has become contentious. Some days ago, someone corrected me because my website did not use the he/she format when referring to an example. They argued that my decision to forgo the female pronoun violated gender equality.
But creativity and innovation often flourish outside of the confines of conformity. In my profession, sales, if we constantly feared offending someone, we would never place a call or send an email until someone else did. And we’ve generated exceptional results by ignoring things that some or many would find offensive.
In the nebulous world of political correctness, what people say and what they mean are often two different things. Some words or expressions, taken out of their original context, may be used to camouflage the deeper intentions and reasons behind them—to create or provoke responses or reactions that will enable someone’s agenda to move forward. To disagree with these socially acceptable words or phrases would be politically incorrect; so, no one dares. Using them has become an effective way to control others—a form of political correctness gone mad.
Nowhere has this trend become more apparent than in the current corporate world, where politics almost always dictate behavior. The proof of political correctness gone mad is the current state of the corporate environment. People are limited in what they can say or discuss in the workplace. They are limited in what views or opinions they can express. Often, this depends on what suits the viewpoints or hidden agendas of their managers.
Are you too innovative? Are you an exceptional salesperson, and do you take initiative? Do you think that these characteristics are your best assets? Maybe, but probably not—in the current corporate environment, standing out from the crowd or voicing an unpopular opinion might cause others to view you as a threat. And others could use your views against you;
Political correctness gone mad is fascism pretending to be manners.
A long time ago, in Paris, Greek shipowner and tycoon Aristoteles Onassis met a young man he found interesting. He thought he might be a good fit for a management position in his enterprise. But Onassis wanted to be sure; so, he asked him to attend a reception in a famous hotel in London two weeks later. The young man patronized the event but knew no one. So, he decided not to be offensive. He sat quietly in a corner, and after some time, he approached Onassis and said, “Hello, Mr. Onassis. We met in Paris two weeks ago, and you invited me here tonight.” And Onassis replied, “Oh—yes, thank you for coming. Nice to see you.” Then he continued talking to other people in the room.
Onassis invited him because he wanted to observe his behavior. He wanted to see if he could engage others in the room—if he was active, confident, and took initiative. Onassis wished to determine if his prospective manager was a shark. But the young man sat quietly in his corner as he wanted to be polite and offend no one.
Should you show up as yourself, with no consideration for your environment? Or should you play it safe by acting diplomatic? Under certain circumstances, people can use both of these options against you. Would you prefer to take bold action and risk unfavorable consequences or be the willing victim of political correctness gone mad? You can try to keep up with the rapidly changing political landscape or choose the road less taken.
The choice is yours. But I would advise you to take a stand in your life. As Winston Churchill once said: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” No product, person, opinion, or institution exhibits full acceptance in our current world. Not everyone will like you, and that’s okay.
Be aware of your environment, and exhibit some degree of manners and diplomacy. But be yourself, be fair and humble, voice your opinions, and be prepared to lose that job, contract, or deal sometimes. Don’t be a slave to political correctness—unless you want to risk being an employee for the rest of your life.