The Official Publication of the Corporate Facilities Council
On the Cover
From Your President
News & Events
Beth Osgood is the Workplace Strategy Manager and Occupancy Planner for CBRE's Midwest, South and West regions.
Millennials & the Future of Facility Management
Mike Petrusky interviews Jake Gunnoe, Ph.D. of Arizona State Unvesity
From Your President
WTC Transportation Hub
Asking Better Questions
I’m thrilled to be writing my first letter to the members of the Corporate Facilities Council. It is my pleasure and honor to serve as president of this organization for the next two years. Our newly elected board is made up of highly experienced and dedicated members of the facility management community. Each one brings their own distinct expertise and will help this organization continue to provide outstanding programs and educational opportunities.
I’d like to thank Denise Johnston for her stewardship of the CFC and welcome her support as we continue to increase the value we provide our members. Denise now joins an elite group of very talented, smart people who dedicated their time to lead this organization and continue to lend their expertise; a value that can’t be measured and is immensely appreciated.
The board has been working behind the scenes to develop our calendar of events including our First Wednesday Webinars which continues to provide outstanding content covering all aspects of FM. If you haven’t yet, please try one – you’ll be hooked, the content is pertinent to what we do every day. World Workplace is fast approaching and we are hosting a “Real Life Conversation” at our annual meeting on Wednesday morning (October 3) right before the opening keynote. These lively events involve short presentations and a lot of audience participation. Our topic for this conversation is Wellness, please come share your experiences and take this opportunity to hear what others are doing.
Constant change seems to be the new normal─our industry, our organization, the workplace, the workforce and the world itself seem to change every day. To help you navigate through the changes in your workdays we’ll stay true to our mission to be the comprehensive network for knowledge and resource sharing for facility professionals responsible for headquarters, large campuses and office environments.
We’re here to help, so please feel free to contact us with thoughts and suggestions.
Facility, the official publication of the Corporate Facilities Council of IFMA, is published quarterly.
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved.
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Executive Board 2018-20
Beth Osgood, CFM
Koch Business Solutions
Sarah Wortman, CPSM
Joe Selby, CFM
Wells Fargo Bank
Immediate Past President
Denise Johnston, CFM
Bobby R. LaRon, M.S.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Koch Business Solutions
Sue Thompson, CMP
AAA Club Alliance
Wayne Whitzell, LEED AP, BEP, GBO
Matthew Kutzler, PE, CDT
Facility Engineering Associates
Buck Fisher, CFM, IFMA Fellow
Facilities Management & Operations Assessment
Alice Houguisson, CFM, SMP Edelman
Jeff Martin, CMP
Wells Fargo Bank
Melodee Wagen, MCR
Workspace Strategies, Inc.
Part 1 of 3
Changing Perceptions of Workplace Design: Enhancing Innovation Through Play
Scott Fallick, AIA, LEED AP, Associate
It is often assumed that the word “play” primarily signifies fun. But as recently explored in the Perkins Eastman white paper, Not Just Child’s Play: How Playful Environments Contribute to Innovation, produced by Katherine Gluckselig, Rebecca Milne, and myself, how does play go beyond fun and foster innovation? In the first of three articles, this question is in part inspired by the success of leading organizations that have leveraged play to drive innovation.
Taking time to play while at work might seem at odds with the objective of any business: to make a profit. The typical response is to work harder and faster, but some experts believe that working too hard may very well stunt creative problem solving. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, supports this argument in his acclaimed book, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. He states that when we focus less on our thoughts and ideas “there is no need to direct them, to criticize them prematurely, to make them do hard work…and it is just this freedom and playfulness that makes it possible for leisurely thinking to come up with original formulations and solutions” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997). While hard work is still critically important, struggling to force outcomes will eventually lead to diminished returns in both value and efficiency. Instead, it is when we give ourselves permission to release that focus and play that we open the doors for innovation to occur.
The argument for engaging in play past childhood is bolstered by recent discoveries in neuroscience and behavioral psychology that indicate that the human brain continues to grow and change well into adulthood (disproving the previous theory that the production of new brain cells stopped at adulthood). Furthermore, certain activities—such as play—have been shown to affect a positive impact on brain development and growth. According to Stuart Brown, M.D., founder of the National Institute for Play, engaging in play is one of the most powerful ways to promote neural connectivity and optimize brain health in both children and adults (Brown 2009).
In addition to the positive impact of play on brain development, research points to its strong role in producing innovation. A key component of play’s effectiveness in fostering innovation is found within an essential aspect of play: an absence of a fear of failure. When we play, we feel safe to experiment and explore new connections of ideas. Better yet, our minds are clearer without the typical stressors of time, money, and other obligations.
This idea of promoting play has been fully adopted by some organizations focused on maximizing their potential to innovate through the design of their physical surroundings. This is most evident in the race to innovate within Silicon Valley, where corporate cultures and their built environment expressly encourage play. This represents an interesting opportunity for architecture to play a larger role in the success of an organization. IDEO, one of the leading design consulting firms in the world, is one of the earliest adopters of this approach. Well-known for their ability to produce a wide range of innovative products, including the first Apple mouse, Tom Kelley, a longtime partner of IDEO, attributes a collaborative and playful culture for a significant portion of the organization’s success. This playful and collaborative culture is embedded in IDEO’s own workspace.
At every IDEO location, the primary intent of their workplace design is to not feel like an office. Their open floor plans are dotted with communal tables and informal collaboration zones to display and share ideas. Post-it notes overwhelm the walls and makerspaces are home to wild prototyping experiments, while workstations share space with “campsites” outfitted with fake grass and rocks. These features make the space scream “think outside the box.” According to Duane Bray, a partner and Head of Global Talent at IDEO, employees are given “permission to play” (Bray, 2015). When failure is considered a necessary ingredient of the creative process, IDEO’s designers can take risks, explore unconventional ideas, and ultimately discover new solutions.
Google designs their offices to encourage play as well. At the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, employees have access to volleyball courts, vegetable gardening, and “nap pods.” These activities are complemented with playful settings featuring whimsical fixtures and furnishings, themed pantries, and meeting spaces that feel more like living rooms or libraries than an office. At the Google Manhattan office, staff can move around on razor scooters or climb ladders to move between floors (Stewart, 2013). Google’s eccentric amenities aren’t a simple recruitment tool, they are part of a heavily investigated approach to foster an innovative and playful culture (Stewart, 2013).
Despite the wild success of these and similar companies, many traditional industries are at least wary if not strongly against any element of play in the office. While this stance might sound reasonable in the short term, it jeopardizes the larger organizational goal of more collaboration, innovation, and ultimately profit. How can we distill elements of play into any workplace environment to encourage innovation and what are the financial arguments to implement them? These questions will be explored further in the subsequent two articles of this series to piece together a holistic plan to support play in any environment.
Scott is an architect, researcher, and strategist at Perkins Eastman Architects. He spearheads environmental psychology studies investigating collaboration and well-being in workplace, healthcare, and higher education environments. With a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Southern California, Scott is also a registered architect in the State of New York and a LEED-Accredited professional.
Bray, Duane. (2015). IDEO’s Employee Engagement Formula. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from link.
Brown, Stuart, M.D. & Vaughan, Christopher. (2009). Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. New York, NY: Avery.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. (1997). Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
Stewart, James B. (2013). Looking for a Lesson in Google’s Perks. The New York Times. Retrieved from link.
September 12-13 | Washington, DC
I, have what my friends call a “cartoon brain.”
I adore animated entertainment on a level that’s borderline obsessive. My older sister and I used to watch Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Popeye, Roadrunner, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Super Chicken and, well, every cartoon that came across our tiny TV screen when I was little. The two of us struggle to get along as adults… until one of us mentions “What’s Opera Doc” or the episode of Super Chicken where his arch nemesis, The Noodle, robs a bank by literally letting a cat out of a bag and taking advantage of the surprise this produces to vacuum up all the money in the bank.
These days I love Rick & Morty.
I mean, I have my DVR set to record each and every showing of any episode of the show. And I watch them all, even though I’ve seen each one a half-dozen times so far.
I got hooked on Rick & Morty because of the episode entitled “Pickle Rick” that I stumbled across randomly one night. To sum up the plot, Rick, one of the two title characters, has turned himself into a pickle in order to avoid going to family therapy with his daughter, grandson and granddaughter. A totally random adventure ensues, and Rick ends up in the therapist’s office anyway, desperate to get the syringe full of chemicals his daughter possesses that will turn him back into a human being.
The reason I’m writing about an animated mad scientist who turns himself into a pickle though is because of what the therapist says to him once he’s in her office:
“Because the thing about repairing, maintaining, and cleaning is it's not an adventure. There's no way to do it so wrong you might die. It's just work. And the bottom line is, some people are okay going to work, and some people well, some people would rather die.”
“Each of us gets to choose.”
I don’t know, but if that doesn’t resonate with every facilities manager reading this then I’ve grossly underestimated my peers.
Now I don’t see FMs shying away from work, or the lack of glory inherent in our daily lives. If that was happening every organization in the world would be collapsing. I don’t see this same ethic and willingness to grind it out applied to IFMA.
Take a look at your chapter. See a lot of FMs on the board? Running the committees? Showing up? I don’t. That burden is being shouldered by our associate members. And the irony here is how often I’ve heard my fellow professional members gripe about getting swarmed by associates at IFMA events.
Without putting too fine a point on it, we want the IFMA components to provide us with lots of cool stuff, but we don’t want to devote time to making that happen. And then when the associates expect to get something back for the time they invest in our association, in the form of business leads, we complain about that and use it as a partial justification for not showing up, not volunteering and not being engaged.
Running a chapter or a council isn’t glamorous. There’s no way to do it so wrong you might die. It’s cleaning and maintaining. It’s just work. And if you’re not going to do that work then someone else has to. Appreciate that they’re doing it.
Joe Selby is a Retail Property Manager for Wells Fargo Bank, managing a large portfolio of buildings, responsible for capital planning, operations and ongoing maintenance programs.
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Advocacy Day and Public Policy Forum
More than Just
Weathering the Storm
By John K. Powell, Esq., P.E.
Resilience is one of the hottest topics in the planning world today. Though most commonly raised in the context of weather and climate change, resiliency is much more. It means being ready for just about anything. So when it comes to resiliency planning, sea level rise is just the tip of the proverbial melting iceberg.
Local governments, businesses and facilities managers talk about it all the time, but what does it mean to be “resilient”? Just take a look at the plain meaning of the word and you will quickly realize that resiliency is something that not just communities should strive for but also individuals. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions” and Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Latin for springing or leaping back, synonyms for resilience often include words you might find inscribed on an inspirational bracelet such as tough, irrepressible, buoyant, robust, and resistant. These are all admirable characteristics which would allow communities, businesses and individuals alike to adapt and recover from misfortune. Resilience is a not just a state of readiness, but also a state of mind.
Life is a constant process of balancing risk and reward. Every time you step out of your house, and even when you don’t, you are experiencing some level of risk. When we get into an automobile, we run the risk of serious injury and even death. We try and mitigate this risk by lowering the probability of occurrence; taking the less congested route, driving a car with anti-lock brakes, and practicing defensive driving. We also try and reduce the severity of potential injury by wearing seat belts and purchasing cars with excellent crash protection ratings. In the event all else fails, we carry insurance. The risk formula is fairly straightforward. Potential for serious injury plus a high probability of occurrence equals maximum avoidance and preparation. Where it gets tricky though is when the potential damage is severe but the probability of occurrence is low (e.g. 100-year flood) or conversely where the damage is expected to be low but the probability of occurrence high (e.g. summer heat waves). This balancing exercise is the same for individuals and businesses alike.
Risk is community specific as no two are exactly the same. The challenges facing a small community on the coast of Florida will be much different than a large city in the midwest. Size and geography, among many other factors, affects vulnerability. Some of the better-known vulnerabilities in the field of resiliency include hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, droughts, floods, blizzards, heat waves, wildfires and sea level rise. There are other lesser known vulnerabilities too, which may be indirectly related to weather, such as a change in the agricultural growing season and spread of vector borne diseases. And some operate independently of weather such as poverty, violence, education, public transit, unemployment and other social issues. Generally speaking, vulnerabilities can be classified into two primary categories; those that are acute or sudden (e.g. cyber-attack) versus those that are chronic or ongoing (e.g. aging infrastructure).
Just as the types of stresses and shocks are community specific, so is the potential range of impacts they may result in. For each vulnerability, communities will need to assess the associated damage. There are both direct and indirect impacts. Businesses located in a community with overhead electric power lines, narrow two lane roads and a canopy of tall trees will be directly affected by high winds differently than a desert or plains region. Widespread power outages and impassable roads are likely for this community. A community with heavy reliance on manufacturing as their economic engine could erupt into mass poverty, food shortages and even potential violence or crime if the factories were to suddenly shut down. A community with no hospitals must rely on medical assistance from afar in the event of a contagious disease outbreak, and many could die without lack of immediate medical care. Moreover, a community can be indirectly affected by any catastrophe experienced in an adjacent or nearby area through an influx of fleeing residents.
Fortunately, many impacts are predictable. Reliable meteorological information dates back decades and can tell us that on average there are expected to be a certain number of storms in an area, what the average high and low temperatures will be, as well the average monthly precipitation. As such, there may not be a good excuse for being caught off guard when a nor’easter clobbers New England with brutal winds, sleet and several inches of snow fall since it happens most every winter and the probability of reoccurrence should be considered high. In this case complacency is the enemy of resilience, rather than lack of information. Other impacts are less predictable though. Acts of domestic terrorism may never affect an area, or if so maybe just once in a lifetime. As such, estimating the likelihood of an event will help prioritize and focus limited resources.
Just as vulnerabilities and impacts are community specific, so are the resources that allow a community and its businesses to prepare and respond. It stands to reason that communities with newer infrastructure, more stable and diverse economies, and higher socioeconomic status may be better prepared and able to adapt. Similarly, communities that operate their own utilities may have equipment and tools on hand to rapidly respond. The presence of police, fire, airports, and mass transit systems can also make responding that much easier. Furthermore, communities that are proactive can significantly minimize and mitigate risk. For example, conducting controlled burns to reduce the risk of wildfires, installing backup electric generators to power critical infrastructure such as traffic lights and sewage lift stations, stockpiling road salt for icy conditions, and incentivizing different kinds of businesses in order to diversify the economic base.
Another essential component is determining the cost associated with potential damage as well as with mitigating the risk. While a community may be aware of the risk associated with hurricane wind damage, the cost to relocate overhead power lines underground may be insurmountable. On the other hand, a recurring schedule for trimming trees may be possible or offering local businesses low interest rate loans for installing backup emergency generators. Building a seawall or levy to permanently hold back rising waters may be technologically and economically infeasible. However, limiting future development in flood prone areas may be as simple as modifying building codes, zoning or future land use maps.
Soliciting input is of paramount importance because along with local governments, neighborhoods and businesses are at the core of any successful resiliency planning process. In addition to community buy in, understanding the impact to citizens, potential business interruptions, location of sensitive populations, and available resources is critical. Holding multiple public meetings throughout the area will help gather information while simultaneously educating the public regarding the importance of community as well as individual resiliency. It is important that business and facility managers are aware of their community’s specific vulnerabilities, so they can prepare accordingly. In addition to citizens, representatives from government, academia, faith-based organizations, healthcare and emergency services should participate. Furthermore, establishing public-private partnerships and setting up mutual aid agreements is crucial to surviving a disaster.
Once there is a list of vulnerabilities, range of potential impacts, probabilities of occurrence, and associated costs, and multiple meetings with community stakeholders to discuss, it is time to prioritize resources and develop an implementation plan. For local governments, this can be accomplished in-house or with the assistance of an outside consultant. Because resiliency is so broad, a request for information is often a good way to gather information about the variety of potential approaches to developing and implementing a plan as well ascertaining the capabilities of interested contractors. The information obtained can then be used to issue a request for proposals and award the work. However, if developing the plan in-house, they are many good resources already out there. Several large cities such as Miami and New York have advanced resiliency efforts which can help you develop the plan, as well as organizations like the Rockefeller Foundation and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. Regardless of the approach, local governments should consider developing a core team from the community which includes at a minimum business and citizen representatives to review and provide comments on draft plans. Federal and state grants might be available too, especially in the realm of climate change adaptation. Finally, once a whole-community risk-based resiliency plan has been developed and implemented, periodic reassessment is required as the plan is a living document which is intended to be continually modified and updated as circumstances and resources change.
Sometimes overlooked, individual resiliency plans for local government employees and first responders is critical as they will be expected to respond immediately to the community’s needs. These employees should have plans for their families including evacuation and post-storm reunification plans. Corporate employees and facility managers are no different. Being individually resilient will allow employees to return to work and assist others with the peace of mind that their homes and families are safe.
While the term resiliency is new, the concept really isn’t. Businesses and communities have been finding ways to be more resilient for years. The issue of resilience has been raised primarily in regards to weather and climate change related issues, but we know today that it is clearly much broader in scope. Its touches on nearly every aspect of a community and includes both sudden shocks and chronic stresses which may be experienced directly or indirectly. Individuals and businesses alike must be aware of their community’s vulnerabilities so they can prepare and adapt accordingly. In addition to the more traditional vulnerabilities, social issues such as high unemployment, endemic violence and food islands must also be considered as they will influence a community’s ability to survive and if planned well, hopefully even thrive. By identifying community-specific vulnerabilities, resources can be focused where they will do the most good.
No community should be surprised when the wind blows fast or the rain falls hard, instead we should prepare for it and be responsive to adversity. After all, it is not necessarily the strongest that survive, but the most resilient. Complacency is the enemy of resiliency. Don’t be caught unprepared.
John K. Powell is an attorney and registered professional engineer in the state of Florida. He is the Director of Environmental Services and Facilities Management for the City of Tallahassee, a full-service municipality providing essential services to the region.
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most resilient and responsive to change.
~ Charles Darwin
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Eric Ang, Planon Asia Pte Ltd
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Roy Bass, Capital Group Companies
Rachael Boyster, FlightSafety International
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Berkeley Burgess, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Aaron Caan, The Pokemon Company International
Jaime Castro, Liquidation Solutions Acquisition, LLC
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Mario Corona, CDI Technology Services
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Ahmed Jeddy, Global Protective LLC
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Advocacy Day and Public Policy Forum 2018
Washington, DC | September 12-13
Facility Fusion 2019
Atlanta | April 8 - 10
First Wednesday Webinar
National & International Events
(click event for details)
The Stellar RFP Process:
Building, Issuing and Responding to RFPs
August 1, 2018
By Alana Dunoff, FMP, IFMA Fellow
Larry Morgan, CFM, FMP, SFP and Wayne Whitzell, LEED AP, BEP, GBO
We will look at the entire RFP process from both the FM and vendor perspectives. FMs will learn a compact system to create RFPs that are aligned strategically with their organization and enable the best vendor selection to deliver the intended results. Vendors and Associates will learn an efficient process and various techniques to maximize their chances of award through smart, strategic responses to RFPs.
The top 3 key points/takeaways from the presentation:
1. Learn the Four Ds of building and issuing an RFP package (Define, Design, Develop and Deliver)
2. Vendors/Associates will learn a systematic process and techniques for responding to RFPs
3. Get the behind-the-scenes “inside story” on the RFP process in the private and public sectors
World Workplace China 2018
Beijing | September 13 - 14
News & Events
World Workplace 2018
Charlotte | October 3-5
Little questions are the key to getting BIG data
Everyone is talking about BIG DATA and data analytics these days –how and why to use it, where it comes from and who is collecting it. But behind big data there are little questions that must be asked in just the right way to ensure that the date you are collecting is the data you want to be collecting.
Asking questions is something we do every day. In FM, we ask questions to understand customer satisfaction, as a way of gaining feedback and for measuring staff and vendor performance. How we ask questions, the words we use, can affect the quality of the information we receive. If you utilize questions to obtain information then the question you should asking yourself is, “Are my questions good questions?
Crafting questions is a science and an art. Over the years, I have found the need to hone my own skills at developing good questions. Whether it is writing questions for a customer satisfaction survey or collecting data to be utilized for a metric or KPI, the ability to write a good question becomes paramount to the answers received.
Here are 3 Tips for crafting better survey questions…
1. Start with the right keyword. Back in grammar school we learned that to ask a question you start a sentence with key words such as: Why, What, When, Who and How. But when you are writing a question these key words are not created equally. The word you choose can change how the question is answered.
For example, if you were assessing user satisfaction of a completed work order you could ask this one question in a multitude of ways:
Were you satisfied with the work completed? This could be answered with a simple Yes or No
How satisfied are you with the work completed? This could be answered with a scale such as Dissatisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Satisfied or Very Satisfied
Please tell us how we did on your completed work? This could be answered with a rating scale as noted above or left as an open ended question allowing the respondent to write in their opinion.
Each of these questions gets the user thinking just a bit differently which can impact their response. And while it might be easier to ask all yes or no questions, using a scaled response provides the respondent with greater flexibility in answers and you with more depth of information. There is a difference between satisfied and very satisfied. Open ended questions, like the 3rd example, are helpful for anecdotal stories or letting people vent, but keep these to a minimum since they are hard to analyze and to pull consistent data from.
2. Watch out for leading questions. Ever watch a TV court drama when the lawyer says, “Your honor that is a leading question”. It is very tempting to give people a hint as to how we really hope they will answer the question, but we need to not bias the respondents. Take a look at these 2 questions as an example:
1. Do you find your open office environment to be noisy?
2. How would describe the acoustics in your open office environment?
Question #1 puts the idea into the respondents head that the space is noisy, when in fact the noise level may not have been a particular issue or concern. This question, with its negative tone, plants the idea that perhaps it is noisy which could influence the answer. If you are not sure whether your questions are leading, ask a few people to review your questions before sending them out.
3. Use simple rating scales. If you have taken any surveys recently there is a trend toward asking you to rate your opinion on a scale of 1 to 10. A 10 point scale is impossible to know if you are getting consistent information from person to person. What is the difference between ‘7’ or ‘8’ on a 10 point scale? Depending on the person an 8 could be ‘quite good’ or ‘just good’. How can you know? These large scales provide far too many variables to know what someone is thinking making the data unreliable.
A better option is a simple 4 point scale with clear wording for each corresponding number.
1. Poor 2. Fair 3. Good 4. Very Good NA
It is also important to have a ‘not applicable’ option so that respondents who don’t have an opinion don’t skew your data. Five point scales are also popular, however with a 5 point scales there is tendency for someone to play the Switzerland card and pick neutral. I prefer to encourage people to either have an opinion or opt out. Neutral often means they don’t care one way or the other.
Whether it is big data or just medium data, data is the cornerstone for the critical decisions we make daily in our organizations. Take some time to review the questions you are asking- poorly written questions can lead to bad information. Crafting good questions are the building blocks for obtaining smart, reliable and valid data. Any questions?
Alana Dunoff, FMP, IFMA Fellow is a Strategic Facility Planning Consultant with AFD Facility Planning and an Associate Adjunct at Temple University’s Facility Management Program. She is also an IFMA Qualified Instructor for the FMP credential. For more information check out www.afdfacilityplanning.com
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(continued on page 17)
I don’t need to tell anyone that civility has taken a nose dive in our society. It’s not just the extreme hatred, vitriol, and invective hurled at those who disagree with one another. It’s not merely the rudeness and disrespect and self-absorption we see in everyday life. It goes deep into the collective soul and exemplifies the simple, timeless truth that “out of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Referring to people in the most vile and offensive ways is hardly sneezed at anymore. Speech peppered with cussing and swearing is offered up by five year-olds. People used to curb their bad speech around children or women or the elderly, or in what we used to call “polite company,” but now children and women and those who are supposed to be older and wiser think nothing of shouting out the most disgraceful and vulgar verbal abuse. The f-bomb is part of common discourse, often several times in one sentence.
How we speak represents us, just as much as does how we write, how we treat others, how we present ourselves, and how we deal with conflict. The way in which we communicate indicates whether or not we know how to exhibit character and civility and anything resembling respect and professionalism. To be able to convey strong emotions, delight, disgust, or heartfelt confession, one needs to have a vocabulary to support some kind of intelligent discourse, but we speak sometimes like a people who know little more than grunts or gurgles. We are foul-mouthed because we don’t have any other words to express ourselves. We don’t know how to use words effectively. We’ve lost the art of the withering comment or the thinly-veiled insult many of us love so much in Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, portrayed so exquisitely by Maggie Smith in Downtown Abbey. “Vulgarity is no substitution for wit,” she snapped, and a truer word was never spoken.
We think we are providing emphasis by using words that used to shock or embarrass—but they don’t anymore, and now they don’t provide any emphasis, either. They limit us. They are tired, worn out, unable to articulate what it is we really want to voice.
That’s why I’d love to bring back old words, words long gone from our lexicon, words so old hardly anyone knos they once existed:
Instead of accusing someone of being an idiot, why not call him a moonling or a porgly?
Tired of someone who complains incessantly? You know she is a smellfungus.
I need another word to describe that meal, since I refuse to call a pizza “awesome,” so I’m going to use superlobgoshious.
Smile sweetly at that rude, insolent little girl behind the counter and tell her she’s quite the gammerstags or that she really knows how to brass it!
I need to find that a way to work into my next conversation with the arrogant, self-important semi-executive that he must consider himself a true ogart or a rodomontado! (If I say with enough panache, he may think I’m complimenting him.)
Some people are just bad to the bone, and I’ll remind myself they are scelestious or maliferous.
And those of among us who curse like sailor (or truckers, or dockworkers)? Muck-spouts, I say.
Sue Thompson is the editor of Facility, the immediate past president of the IFMA Delaware chapter, a past president of the CFC, and the Facilities Manager at AAA Club Alliance.
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