My trouble and strife, the little lady at home, wrote about inappropriate questions in interviews last week and very entertaining she was, too.
But I think I can do better with the level of my inappropriateness.
I do this with no sense of self engradisement, more with a sense of self deprecation, because I really wish I could understand what is PC and what isn’t.
We need to go back a little way to understand where my issues first spring from.
I was running a course for a major UK employer, in fact, one of the biggest. I’m not going to tell you which organisation I’m talking about, suffice it to say it to say that the nation’s health is at the heart of this service.
We needed to get to the root of some issues being faced by a particular part of the service so, all innocently, I proclaimed that ‘we are going to have a brainstorming session’.
The collective intake of breath was so sharp that all oxygen was sucked from the room and I actually passed out for a few seconds.
So, why was I the Devil incarnate all of a sudden?
I asked the question and a delegate piped up that a brainstorm reflects what happens to someone when they are suffering an epileptic seizure.
My problem is not that I should change my language, far from it. If the phrase ‘brainstorm’ offends some people, I’m more than happy to change what I say. No, my problem is that the delegates in the room simply assumed that I would understand that the word ‘brainstorm’ was offensive.
How could I?
I’m not a medical man (person, sorry) and I had no idea I would be hurting the feelings of the people in the room (none of whom, to my knowledge, suffered from epilepsy).
It felt as though I was being ambushed by the word police and that, next time, I would be thrown in jail for fifty years.
So, you see, it’s very difficult for us ordinary folks to know everything that is right/wrong, inoffensive/offensive, so please cut us some slack before sucking air in through your teeth… it’s very off putting.
By the way… I needed an alternative word or phrase to replace ‘brainstorm’ because I still needed to describe what it was were going to do.
That’s why, at 10.20 on a nondescript Tuesday morning, we had a Thought Shower.
Yes, a Thought Shower.
Jolly good it was, too.