DENVER — After working from home for almost a year and a half, engaging in-person with coworkers again may be tough for some.
With tension surrounding topics like the election, protests, and the pandemic, social scientists and language experts predict there could be social anxiety surrounding what words, phrases, and topics are or are not acceptable to use or discuss in the workplace.
“I think it is absolutely healthy for teams to talk about the language that they use and bring light to the fact that words matter,” Co-founder and CEO of Writer.com May Habib said.
Habib said in some cases this can be described as “woke culture."
Woke means to be aware and Habib said it also describes an awakening within our society to issues that weren’t always openly discussed.
“When we talk about woke culture, this refers to the ability to call out things we don't like or find offensive,” Habib said.
However, Habib said this can impact how coworkers communicate.
Woke culture can cause some people to avoid engaging with others in the workplace.
But Habib said it can also work in the opposite way by helping companies and organizations become more aware of how to create a more inclusive environment where everyone feels heard and welcome.
“The concept of woke culture gives companies the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, can we have a dialogue about this?'” Habib said. “Curiosity and openness is so key. Saying, ‘I don’t have the answers, but just want to have a frank conversation around the words we all use' is important.”
Habib said don't be afraid to ask questions, especially when unsure if a word or phrase may offend someone.
Habib said it's important to engage instead of avoiding others.