I listened to a radio interview yesterday discussing the relevancy of concept creep in today's workplace, in particular relating to bullying. It was suggested, and to an extent I agree, that on occasion we might think that we are being bullied because of a single event and thus ‘feel’ aggrieved. Concept creep has arisen because of many factors including societal changes and heightened awareness.
I am certain that concept creep is genuine however should that really be relevant when considering an issue such as workplace bullying or how a person reacts to an event? In my opinion, no. Why, because if we start dismissing issues simply because we believe it is due to concept creep or that ‘it happens to everyone’ then that is likely to influence our subsequent actions. Hence, we may not conduct a proper investigation into a complaint of bullying or ignore a cry for help simply because we attribute concept creep as the reason for it.
For example, as a supervisor you might make a flippant comment about an employee's performance and give them the nickname of 'speedy' because they are slower than others. While that might seem an innocuous comment to some, maybe even humorous to others, it is devaluing the employee and possibly causing unnecessary angst to the recipient, the harm of which may never be known.
Because we are all different, what one person immediately dismisses may cause irreparable damage to another. Examples of this can be seen time and again in everyday life. As a Baby Boomer, if I was struggling with an emotional event my parents would reassure me that “I will get through this”, and to “get up and move on”. We know today that this type of comment can in fact have the opposite effect.
In my humble opinion, something said by another, no matter how insignificant it might seem, must be taken seriously. Those who say that others need to “harden up”, “to take a concrete pill”, or “lighten up a bit” should take time to reflect before saying something that may cause harm to another.
Concept creep may be a real phenomenon, but so what. Awareness isn't a bad thing is it?