The Worst 4 Letter Word In Your Vocabulary

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve noted a number of people I’ve been having conversations with have unwittingly put themselves down and in more than a few instances unintentionally put down many other people with the use of single word.

Yes whether in the community theatre group I’m with at the moment or at work, the word is possibly one of the worst four letter works you can use. The odd thing about this particular 4 letter word is that you can use it in any social situation and you won’t raise a ruckus with anyone for slang, swearing, vulgarity or causing embarrassment. Yet, as I say, by using the word in the wrong context, you can insult yourself and others and let your opinion slip out unintended but there for all to see.

Okay so enough of the cryptic beginning; what’s the word? The word my dear readers is, ‘just’. “Just? That’s it? What’s the big deal?”

Here are a few actual comments I’ve heard uttered recently.

“I’m just a stay-at-home mom.”

“I’m just looking for a general labour job.”

“I’m just looking for a job until I find out what I really want to do.”

“I’m just living in Oshawa until January.”

“I’m not really qualified to do anything so I’m just looking for a job in retail.”

Ouch! Each one of these statements is real and in each case the person gave no indication whatsoever that they insulted both themselves and others; offending in order: moms, those in general labour jobs, all those living in Oshawa and all those working in retail.

Please do yourself a favour and stop using the word ‘just’ in a similar context to the examples above. IF you’re only interested in my point to this blog feel free to stop reading here. If on the other hand you want to read on you’ll gain more insight into how this betrays your lack of self-esteem, self-image and can hurt your employment opportunities.

Okay all you moms out there, yes you. Are you a proud mom? Are you good at running the household, budgeting meals, housing and recreation costs on what you bring in? Are you the kind of mother that puts her kids as a first priority, raises them as best you can with the skills, education and good sense you have? In short, are you a good mom? Then why would you say, “I’m just a mom.” This short sentence composed of four words the longest of which is only 4 letters is a put-down to all moms everywhere and expresses the view that you yourself see motherhood as something of little value. More to the point it says you view the people who are mothers around the globe as in some lowly occupation of little social standing. I doubt that is your intent.

As for the retail example above, when you say, “I’m not really qualified to do anything so I’ll just get a job in retail”, you’re betraying to anyone listening that you have a low opinion of those in this profession. It’s like your saying, “Working in retail doesn’t really require any specific skills; anyone could do it”. Your personal opinion may and probably will offend a large number of people who would gladly educate you on the required skills to work successfully in retail. Oh and by the way, the employers who hire people to work in retail positions are doing their very best to make sure that they avoid hiring people who are not going to invest themselves in the work and see it as some kind of ‘pay for doing precious little’ job.

Now I grant that in our various societies around the globe there are certain professions that have more prestige than others. In some cultures its Doctors, Bankers, Architects and Professors. In some countries you might find it’s the patriarchs; the mothers who are esteemed and held in high regard. General Labourers might not be on your personal list of valued professions, but without them consider how the life you lead would be impacted. Once again, there are many highly skilled and valued people toiling quite successfully who are general labour positions.

Look I know you probably don’t mean to put anybody down let alone yourself. Watch your language and listen to yourself for subtle words like, ‘just’ that creep into your everyday vocabulary.

Here’s an interesting thing to drive home this point. When we meet someone for the first time or the first few times, we instinctively start to gather all kinds of information on them in order to figure out who they are and how to interact with them. Our eyes take in their body language and appearance, our noses pick up on body odour or fragrances. Our ears pick up on tone of voice, language skills and words. Our brains process all this information and do it amazingly quickly. All of this information comes together and we have what we generally call an impression of someone. As we gather more information, our first impression is strengthened or adjusted.

Phrases that start, “I’m just a…” suggest to our brains many things; possibly that the speaker has low self-esteem and views themselves as being of less value. This gives an advantage to the listener in dominating the speaker and possibly in ways which can be harmful and controlling.

Something to think about. Just saying.

Line Workers

If you don’t work on the assembly or production line, ever thought much about those who do? Like all jobs, there are people who excel doing this kind of work, in this kind of environment and those who do not. I am thankful for the people who call themselves Line Workers; who perform their jobs with pride and produce quality work. Your efforts make all our lives better, and you may or may not get the recognition you deserve as often as you should.

Whether it’s the car or truck you drive, packaged food you buy, electronic gadgets you depend on, or any of the many of the products you use on a daily basis, a great number of them are produced by people working on a line.

When you stand in the aisle of your local supermarket and eye all the cans and jars on the shelves, if you’re like me, you expect all the labels to be affixed properly, all the cans to be dent-free, and the jars all vacuum sealed. You don’t really think much about the production consistency until you run up against a defect; an abnormality. If you do, don’t you find yourself skipping that one item for another which appears to be in better shape? I do. That item sits there like an ugly duckling, passed over by fellow shoppers until someone selects it by accident or the staff remove it and return it to the manufacturer for credit.

When it comes to larger purchases we insist on and expect perfection or we don’t buy. We take the car out for a test drive, sit in it, fiddle with the knobs and buttons, look under the hood and check out the trunk. What on earth do we really expect to find under the hood anyhow? Nuts and bolts just lying about that might suggest poor workmanship? While we might take a chance on a dented can in the store, the car in the showroom had best be as perfect to the eye as it can be. If not, no sale.

Line work requires people who have specific skills just as all jobs do. Look at advertised job postings, and you’ll see a call for physical stamina needed to stand for extended periods of time. Teamwork, the flexibility to work a variety of shifts, the willingness and ability to be trained in multiple areas and attention to detail are also common qualities required. I have run into people; (many people in fact) who have a low opinion of assembly line work. Not necessarily the people who do the work but rather the work itself. They tend to think these jobs can be done by pretty much anyone and therefore their view of the job is that it’s a menial job. But is it really?

Line work – either on an assembly line or a production line – requires workers to be actively engaged in their work at all times and their work is measured for quality constantly. How office workers would cry foul if they were monitored and supervised the same way the Line Worker is! All that standing around chit-chatting in the office would be eliminated and restricted to breaks and lunch and how the daily activities would change. Just as goods on an assembly line can be tracked back to the workers that produced them, can you imagine if all the filing, data entry and keyboarding could be traced back to the people responsible? When you are held that accountable on a line, you work better or you’re on notice.

I suspect I don’t have it in me to work on an assembly line or production line. I imagine myself using a power tool to tighten bolts for hours on end and can’t help but think I wouldn’t have the required mental stamina to be successful. I’d be better for the experience on a short-term basis to fully understand and appreciate the job from the workers point of view of course, but long-term, I’d fail. Hence, I find myself sincerely appreciating those who do this kind of work and who do it well.

When I get in my car I want the seat comfortable, all the knobs and buttons to produce the desired results each and every time without failure. I want the engine to start right away, the headlights to work, etc. In fact, if all the workers who put my car together did their job, I won’t likely even be thinking about what isn’t working because it all should. The only time I’m thinking about the car is when something goes wrong. If you’ve ever bought a product that has ongoing problems, you certainly think of the line workers then! (As unfair as it is to only think on them then.)

If you are considering this kind of work, take pride in it just we all should in the work we do. Never forget the end user, the people who will benefit from the quality of the work you perform each and every day, on each and every shift. Stand behind your work for all to see.

Line work isn’t for everyone – or just anyone. Your skills are appreciated and needed to keep the economy rolling. And you, who like me benefit in so many ways from those who work on the line, how about a pat on the back for these men and women?