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Don’t say ‘not a bad idea’ or ‘deadline’ at work as they’re too violent, says language guide

Screaming communication loud speech
Screaming communication loud speech

People should avoid using everyday phrases such as “blown away”, “deadline” and “not a bad idea” because they are overly violent, an author has claimed.

A number of seemingly harmless phrases have been included in a guide entitled Evolving from Violent Language, in which Anna Taylor, a communications director based in the US, deemed are too harsh.

Her list of phrases, which has now gone viral, includes everyday idioms such as “jump the gun”, “roll with the punches” and “straight shooter”.

She then suggested more “positive” alternatives, such as “pull the trigger” becoming “going to launch”, or “killing two birds with one stone” becoming “feeding two birds with one scone”.

In one example, Ms Taylor places “not a bad idea” on the violent list, while offering “good idea” as an alternative.

Ms Taylor, who is the director of global communications for Phenomenex, a medical supplies company, told The Mail on Sunday that the guide was for those who would like to replace mostly violent idioms with more positive and inclusive language.

On her LinkedIn page, she called on people to switch at least one phrase every week.

The list has been shared widely, helped by a retweet by Jeremiah Owyang, a Silicon Valley executive, which has been viewed 31 million times.

However, the guide has also been widely ridiculed with many mocking the suggestions and labelling it over the top.

Julia Hartley-Brewer, the broadcaster, tweeted sarcastically:

Ian Bremmer, the author and political scientist, wrote: “Trying to figure out how ‘not a bad idea’ is violent.”

Last month, the Associated Press was forced to apologise for suggesting that using the term “the French” was dehumanising after it updated its style guide to encourage more sensitive use of language.

This was mocked by the French Embassy in the US, which suggested it may change its name to the “Embassy of Frenchness”.

AP also suggested that phrases such as “the poor” and “the college-educated” could be seen as “dehumanising”.

When responding to criticism from some academics, Ms Taylor told The Mail on Sunday: “There is a certainly a segment of people, who often present as white men, who question the guide.”

‘Have we become this insensitive?’

At time of writing, Ms Taylor’s original LinkedIn post introducing the list had received hundreds of direct comments.

One commenter responded by asking: “Have we become this sensitive?” Ms Taylor suggested that the poster frame his question differently and ask “Have we become this insensitive?”

In a post responding to the coverage her list has received, she said that many of those that responded negatively were “openly admitting they are advocates for creating less inclusive environments”.

She added: “Their perspective (and not those who disagree but some of the reasoning and the demeaning) is either unconscious bias, unintended microaggression, intentional macro-aggression or unadulterated racism.”