More and more these days it seems that if you disagree with someone’s opinion, then you can be quickly labelled a bigot, small minded, or even sexist.

Gone are the days where we could have some good old banter at work about politics, news or our views on the latest Barnaby Joyce saga. In fact, at work it seems that jokes and humour are now indeed off limits, people don’t dare talk about religion, their views on same sex marriage or politics as it’s just too damn risky. Some one might be offended, damn they might even lodge a complaint about it. #thisdoeshappen.

You see, to me it seems that in the land of political correctness, minority groups or social justice warriors abhor any challenge to their beliefs and quickly label the other party with horrid labels such as “Hitler” if people don’t agree with them about EVERYTHING.

But has it all gone too far? The whole purpose of having a conversation with someone is to learn and expand your thinking and I find it interesting to really listen and hear other people’s views on controversial topics. Even if they are the polar opposite of my own. Damn, I might even learn something.

But lately, I have noticed that when people are having a conversation about something a little bit controversial, opposing views often fall on deaf ears, more often than not a person’s views are shoved right back down their throat, often misconstrued and twisted to suit the agenda of making the other person seem like a right or left wing ideolog. More often than not, views are not even heard, as the other party either cuts the person off, or spends time constructing their next clever come back whilst the other person is talking. #RUDE. This whole practice of defensive arguing is killing free speech, and a good ole robust argument.

So, is this the problem? That people have lost the ability to listen? Or is social justice at the cost of freedom of speech a worthy cause? It seems that the polarisation of views has gone so far in either direction that there is even more division than ever. Isn’t the whole purpose of social justice to create equality and inclusion? In my opinion this polarisation is having the opposite effect.

So how is this playing out in Australian Workplaces?

Well from a diversity perspective, I think Australia has one of the most diverse workforces in the world, we truly are a multicultural country with the 2016 Census showing that two thirds (67 per cent) of the Australian population were born in Australia and nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians had either been born overseas (first generation Australian) or one or both parents had been born overseas (second generation Australian).

Australia’s inhabitants are rich with multiple cultures, languages and religions and 83 per cent of the overseas-born population lives in a capital city compared with 61 per cent of people born in Australia. Sydney had the largest overseas-born population.

Millennials are said to be the most accepting generation of diversity, as they have grown up in a truly diverse environment, in fact they don’t even notice differences in race, gender or religion unless they are in a room that has no diversity. This is surely going to affect the workplaces of the future, and I believe diversity will happen organically rather than the forced approach being seen in many government institutions who implement draconian style policies enforcing diversity quotas and the like.

So, is political correctness ruining our society? I believe it is certainly eroding at our ability to be inclusive and embrace differences because people are too damn scared to actually say what they think these days. And in order to be able to think, you need to be able to risk offending other people, and if we don’t have robust arguments about our differences then how can we truly learn to accept each other? Lack of real candid conversations breeds more fear and division.

For years Australian workplaces have tried to control the thoughts and minds of its subjects through Diversity, Sexual Harassment and Anti-Bullying Training. Although I agree that policy around these topics is necessary, people don’t really like being told how to think and what to believe, and as such, this type of training is usually seen as a joke. In fact, the amount of Bullying complaints we see in workplaces now is skyrocketing. In my experience many of these cases are simply employee’s taking offense to someone else’s views or an employee being offended when their Manager instigates fair performance management in the form of feedback. This problem is set to increase, as people can claim to be offended on many grounds now.

So, what is the fall out? Well the next time someone says something that you don’t agree with, I strongly encourage you to stop, listen, and open your mind by saying. “Wow, I never thought of it like that, can you tell me more?” before you get offended or make judgements. It’s a choice!

Check out this clip that explains being offended perfectly and to have a laugh!

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