Nonprofit Network Blog

Acknowledging the "Oops" and "Ouch"

Thursday, October 08, 2020 2:49 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)

Tracey Wilson
Program Coordinator

You won’t know until you know...

Did you see my “oops" last week? I sent out our newsletter with the subject line of: “If you ax us the questions, we’ll provide the answers!” It was my play on words to draw you into reading our blog titled, Sharpen Your Ax, and in my humbled opinion, what I thought would be a cute and funny play on words.

Some of you maybe even wondered about our follow-up correction email: “How do you keep your tools sharp to be the best?”

After the first email was sent, I got a call from Regina who said she had received some negative feedback about the subject line of our email.  I didn't understand.  My first response was “Wait! I googled it. I know it's spelled correctly!  I looked it up!”.

Even as it was being explained to me that I had used black American speech (or Ebonics) and some would consider it cultural misappropriation, I was still confused. I mean, I looked it up online. I was stuck on the fact that I even googled “Ax vs. Axe” . I wanted to be sure I wasn’t going too far off base with what I thought would be a fun play on words to draw you into reading our newsletter.

But… Clearly I did an “oops”

OOPS are statements made as a slip and inadvertently may be the cause of an OUCH.

An OUCH is when someone negatively feels the impact of a statement or action. In this case we can assume it is from an unconscious and unintentional slip of awareness

It took me a minute to absorb this, and then acknowledge it. Even with the hours, and I mean hours I have spent and dedicated to cultural competency professional development in 2020, I still missed this.

So how do we make an “oops” right? When someone says or points out an “ouch” we all must own it and say “oops” and apologize. None of us are perfect and the important lesson here is to learn together and from each other. I made a mistake, I’m not going to let this haunt me, and my learning will never be over. I am going to be conscious of what I say and do, and how I interact with others. And be conscious not only in the “workplace” but also at home and in my own social circles, because we never really know someone’s story until we listen.

So please accept this as my official, oops, and I am sorry for the ouch.

If you know me, you’ll know I grew up in New Jersey, which is a culturally rich and diverse place filled with people from all over the world. And there, the use of “slang” is common. Not to mention with a NJ ‘’joisy” accent, attempting to pronounce the word “asked” was virtually impossible to say and would always come out as “axed”. So hopefully you can see why I was initially confused about how someone would not find my play on words as funny. Offending anyone is never my intention.

At NN our intention is to create a courageous place. A safe place. Our goal is to increase our cultural sensitivity, understand and respect other’s values, beliefs and expectations. To be aware of one’s own assumptions and to be willing and able to adapt the way we communicate, in order to be harmonious with others. And I plan to keep fully embracing this goal. 

If you would like to learn more about cultural competency, visit our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion page for blogs, articles, resources and tools and upcoming events. And of course, if you would like to have a discussion with us and yourself or with your organization, email us today, we’d love to hear from you!

Learn more HERE about the “ax” versus “ask” oops

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