Thursday, 6 September 2007

PostHeaderIcon Un-bloody-believable

Someone in work had the audacity to make a complaint against me as he was offended by an email that I'd sent. This is the email:
Can I make a suggestion that we stop using that bloody awful font on the I&M's that make the documents difficult to read. Of all documents our I&M's are the ones we should make as clear as possible.
I'm not sure if he was offended by my use of the word 'bloody' or my suggestion that we should change the font, I think he might have been instrumental in choosing the font.

Anyway, my Director had words with me and my defence was to quote from Wikipedia "Nowadays it is considered to be a very mild expletive, and unlikely to cause offence."

Indeed even if it is an expletive, it certainly isn't a profanity, it's more of an intensifier that has no meaning in itself but adds a weight of feeling to the statement. Had I said "that not very nice font" instead I don't think the message would have got across. As it is the font is now being changed.

I bet if my comments had been congratulatory and included a real profanity such as "That's a fucking great font, let's use it in all our literature" then no offence would have been taken, in fact quite the opposite.

Unfortunately this isn't the first time a complaint has been made against me for using the word 'bloody' in an email. Again at that time my defensive was that under the circumstances it was fully justified and more than appropriate. I was being really messed around by other people who couldn't get themselves organised and this was the email I shot off born out of frustration:
bloody hell, this'll be the fourth time I've had to burn this CD. Could you guys not be a little more coordinated with this?
Well, it caused uproar! One of the recipients suggested I should face disciplinary action and his Director said I was being rude and unhelpful and passed the complaint over to my Director. I was absolutely gob-smacked, it was all blown out of proportion. This was my reply:
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to deal with this matter, however I don't believe you are in full possession of all the facts.

Yesterday zzz asked that I burn to CD some PowerPoint presentations for today's meeting, this I did immediately, interrupting what I was doing and losing my train of thought. Moments later I was asked to burn a second CD as the wrong files had been sent to me, again this I did immediately and zzz took the CD. This morning I was asked by yyy and xxx to add more files to the CD which meant having to write a third CD. www then wanted to add another file which meant creating a fourth CD! The completed CD was handed to www as soon as he came to see me and I suggested to him ways in which we could do things differently in future.

On each occasion I stopped what I was doing to burn these CD's immediately, rather than being unhelpful I think I was in fact being most helpful.

My emailed response and the 'sarcastic' way in which I may have spoken to www was born out of the exasperation and despair I felt after being messed around due to the complete lack of planning and communication by your people. I actually set high standards for myself and it often frustrates me when people (including myself) fail to live up to those expectations. This frustration can often be interpreted by others as rudeness. Whilst I agreed that certain turns of phrase aren't always appropriate in all circumstances, these words do exist in our vocabulary for a reason and I think in this situation it was most appropriate and fully justified.

I'm quite surprised by www's comments that I should face disciplinary action or a warning, I think this is probably more to do with injured pride than anything else. I'm especially surprised as I received witness reports that afterwards he said "If he ever speaks to me like that again then I'll push him through the wall." I think under our conditions of employment this threat of violence towards me counts as harassment and bullying which is a gross misconduct resulting in summary dismissal. I was going to forget about this and not bring it to your attention but should he persist with this then I will pursue the matter.
There's a lesson to be learnt here from both these situations. Never underestimate a persons ability to confuse injured pride with offence and to then defend themselves by attacking back.


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