If you, the reader, have ever been a part of or seen the life of a corporate e-mail thread, it’s of no shock when those communications can be described as the most ‘passive aggressive’ messages between people without ever saying anything at all.
‘Per my last e-mail.’
‘I see your point, but…’
‘Let me clarify.’
‘Per my previous point.’
What’s really fun is determining what these really mean. In order:
‘Go back and read it again.’
‘Your opinion is irrelevant.’
‘Don’t e-mail me again.’
‘I suppose I’ll explain.’
‘It makes me angry that I have to explain this.’
So, if you haven’t been a member of corporate America you may be asking yourself – ‘Why do they talk this way?’
Simple – Human Resources (HR) demands it. Why? Because it’s the safest way to communicate, while avoiding the HR complaint or, worse, the lawsuit for harrassment or whatever grievance a worker can manifest from digital words that might be ‘too harsh.’
It’s the world corporate America has developed to navigate the complex working relationship between management, labor, and profit. These sayings, among many others, are supposed ‘clever’ ways to respond to the problem. They leave the door open for interpretation, and while pointed in their meaning they relieve the writer of any kind of responsibility while also providing an ‘out.’
Sadly, this has become the world of politics as well. Or, perhaps, the better notion would be to state that politicians – and, specifically, appointed managers – have found a way to push this to be the language used when addressing the politicians elected to represent we, the people.
For instance, when watching someone like Dr. Anthony Fauci testify, some of the phrases used:
‘We believe it’s the best practice.’
‘It’s our interpretation that…’
Those sound awfully close to opinions, mostly because they are, but the statements make sense from a logical standpoint because it’s the federal government and appointees protecting themselves.
At any given second, someone is suing the federal government over something. Why would the government expose themselves to legal trouble by not pushing the most conservative of medical recommendations? It just doesn’t make sense.
What would make the most sense? Telling the American public that masks can help, social distancing can help, and that focusing on these measures can help make sure hospitals don’t overcrowd so people can receive the treatment they need.
Instead, this black hole of interpretation exists that prevents any type of middle ground existing. Politicians, mostly elected representatives, tend to push back against these appointed and elected managers in a way that almost seems whiny, but what other recourse do they have? In the end, their pushes for a different method fall short because they tend to be the exact opposite of what’s recommended, and many times that can open those same representatives to their own legal troubles – so they quit.
Enter ‘Risk Rating 2.0’ and the change in how flood maps are interpreted, and therefore how flood insurance is calculated. Many representative politicians knew nothing of the changing measures, and by the time they found out, all they could do is speak loudly into the microphone about it.
Meanwhile, FEMA simply said ‘It is our belief that we have been mandated to get the National Flood Insurance Program into the green, and this is our interpretation on how to do that.’
Meanwhile, per Senators John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, as well as the office of Congressman Garret Graves, FEMA dodges interviews and testimony with basically those words.
Then, all at once, the Republicans and Democrats get into it and things like Risk Rating 2.0 rear their ugly heads and sneak through.
Unfortunately this has turned into a vicious cycle between management bureaucrats, representatives, and the people. One could infer that it has been one of the many reasons that American politics have turned so vitriolic.
But one thing is for certain – failure is the only way to learn and move forward. Mistakes are made, but can be fixed, as long as people are willing to work together.
The best way to make it to that end? Fix the American justice system with regard to the open door policy on lawsuits.
McHugh David is publisher of the Livingston Parish News.