1: A customer that receives services from a professional.
2: A computer on a network.
Classification: People, Places, & Things.
1: Customers that need to feel special to function emotionally and mentally are called clients.
2: Workstations attached to a network are called clients.
You can call dog shit dog crap, but that doesn’t change that you still stepped in it. You know where the pile of feces exited from, and you know that it means a dog took a shit. Now, there are different types of dog crap: there’s the dry dog crap that’s a nice, healthy handful of logs; that dog crap came from a healthy dog. Then there’s the puddle of dog crap, which was left behind by a canine’s upset stomach.
The point is: changing a word does not change its meaning. Dog shit is still dog shit. Negligent owners who don’t pick up after their dog are still inconsiderate of other people’s shoes.
And while the dog can’t pick up after himself, we know that people who shit their words all over the office also don’t pick up after themselves. I’ve rarely met an office worker who picked up his verbal diarrhea left on the boardroom floor.
I want to highlight the absurdity and futility in changing one word for another, and poop jokes seemed like the best avenue to take.
The best we can hope from with a euphemism is to temporarily reduce the pain others associate with the word it softens. However, you only need to read Hans Christian Anderson fairytales to understand that an endless layer of soft language will not change the deeply held meaning behind a word of phrase.
In the Princess and The Pea, a prince tests a woman’s claims that she is a princess by having her sleep on a stack of mattresses, and underneath all of those mattresses, a single pea was placed. The woman can’t sleep through the night, claiming she’s been bruised by the pea. The prince, who denied women because they were fat, ugly, or had bad table manners, accepts the woman as a true princess, and they live happily ever after.
What this illusion translates to is that no matter how many layers of soft language we use, those who choose to feel offended by certain words will eventually feel offended by the euphemism. In other words: everyone’s a princess, and deserves unending special treatment.
This is where the Law of Familiarity comes in with language. First, we soften the word to accept the reality and reduce the pain. Second, we become comfortable with the euphemism that it becomes the norm, and the original term feels even worse. Finally, after using the euphemism for so long, its impact has been reduced, and the only thing we’re left with is the original meaning: the pain of the word furthest down the line, the one we are so afraid of hearing.
This means that, for the foreseeable future, the language in the workplace will only become softer, and softer, until enough layers have been piled on that everyone wakes up a bruised princess. Like we have now!
What You Can Do:
Don’t change your language to make things easier for others to hear. Pea soup is still pea soup, even when you remove all the flies.