Just Stop Using “You Guys”

It’s time for me to write this post, since I’ve been thinking about it for over 10 years. I kept hoping it would catch on. It hasn’t. So here goes…

I wish everyone to stop using the term “you guys” when referring to a mixed gender group of people. I get why people use it. It’s cool, quick and casual. It rolls off the tongue. And yet, it excludes.

This isn’t a new idea. Just a brief internet search turned up a couple of articles, one from 2005 and another from 2015. Both make the argument much better than I could. It’s basically this: using a male term (yes, “guys’ is a male term, not a neutral one) to describe a group of people that don’t all identify as male is sexist.  There, I said it.  This may seem ridiculous to some. I can hear eye rolling from here. After all, it’s not the most offensive term out there. Still, when I think about the power of language to help or to harm, I don’t find “you guys” helpful. To me, it represents a creeping line of a male-centric view. I’d rather use a term than includes everybody.

Photo Credit: DaveBleasdale via Compfight cc

What to use instead? Here’s a list of words I’ve used and that also appear in this  article 40 Gender-Neutral Alternatives to saying “You guys” by Kim Z. Dale

You

People

Y’all

Folks

Friends

There are more – maybe you can share with me?

Microaggressions: They’re Real and They Hurt

“Where are you from?”

“I guess you wear the pants in the family.”

“You won’t have the natural authority to be a school administrator, so maybe you should think about a different career path.”

Perhaps you’ve heard the term microaggressions and wondered what it means. Maybe someone has brought it to your attention at work when speaking about the systemic barriers that marginalized groups face and you’ve thought, “Really?” I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought it was some new, trendy term. I woke up after Shakil Choudhury explained it. This video clip helped: How Microaggressions are Like Mosquito Bites – Same Difference

This term resonates with me, even though there are a few research and scientific criticisms of it. While the anti-racism and civil rights movements have gained some momentum, there’s still so much work to be done.  Systemic racism exists in our society.

If we deeply examine our thinking, we can see that every single one of us is biased and conditioned to believe things about groups of people. This might come out in our inner opinions about others or even in the casual remarks we make. We may not intend to hurt others, but the reality is that our words can really sting. They can give the subtle message that you don’t belong. That you’re not good enough. That you are “other”.

Changing this is hard. As with everything, the first step is a willingness to hold the mirror up to ourselves and understand our biases. That’s difficult work, but so worth it. Engage a friend who is willing to be honest with you. Listen to others’ reactions to what you say. Try not to be defensive.

I’m still on this journey and I’m sure I make mistakes.  What about you? Have you experienced microaggressions?

Are You Caught in the Whirlwind?

From gfycat.com

Look or sound familiar? Sometimes I’m definitely Mickey and that whirlwind doesn’t want to let me go.

The whirlwind is a term coined by the authors of Four Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. They describe it as the massive amount of energy that’s necessary just to keep your job going on a day-to-day basis. We all know the feeling – the emails, the phone calls, the meetings, the to-do lists. It’s absolutely necessary but it’s also is the enemy of getting something new or innovative done. (p. 6)

The first step to getting out the whirlwind is to notice it. It reminds me of how lots of people like to talk about how busy they are and how exhausting their life is (see Dean Shareski‘s excellent posts on this topic). I get it, we all seem to have lots to do. But once we notice, maybe it’s possible to find some time to focus on what’s important. Maybe you can step away from the whirlwind for 30 minutes and create the time.

Perhaps as you read this you are laughing hollowly. “No way,” you’re thinking. “She is nuts – I don’t have a minute extra”. If that’s you, it might be time to read Essentialism.

I find it as hard as the next person to focus on what’s truly important and not just urgent. And yet, if I did it first thing when I get up, or blocked my calendar for 60 minutes every week, or went away for an overnight by myself to focus, or turned the TV off before the next show in the bingeworthy series came on…it could be different.

Photo by Jenna Hamra from Pexels

Yes, it could be different.