Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Straight talking

A judge decided last week that the word “pleb” was most likely uttered by UK MP Andrew Mitchell during his altercation with a police officer. Whilst, you could argue that its not OK to use such language, there was a small part of me that admired the straight talking.

In his years of attending sessions in the House of Commons, I’m sure Mr Mitchell will have used and heard the expression “Right Honourable Gentleman” countless times. I wonder how many times it’s been used as a mask for what he and his fellow MPs really want to say – “You stupid git…. You arse…. Pleb!”. House rules prevent such language, so “RHN” becomes the “polite” norm.

Much of my working life is spent looking at the kind of language we use and the impact it has on our relationships – both personal and in the workplace. When I’m communicating, I do my utmost to choose the right words, so I may be clear and respectful. I’ve always felt that using appropriate language is of paramount importance.

However, I’ve come to recognise that it’s not just about the words themselves but also the mindset behind them. I see how, I may take great care not to use contentious language but can, at the same time have my own agenda, be treating others’ needs as secondary and therefore be framing things in an apparently respectful, yet manipulative way.

Let’s be clear here. This is by no means my modus operandum 100% of the time! Its more a propensity when things are getting difficult or there is some kind of pressure to influence or appease. I’d go as far as to say that most (if not all) of us will serve up this kind of “reasonable” language whilst harbouring quite different thoughts. – at times!


True integrity comes when our mindset is absolutely in synch with the words coming out of our mouths. That way comes true power, influence resulting in absolute trust. However, it can also cause offence or get us into hot water.

Perhaps we’ll never know whether Mr Mitchell definitely used that one little insulting word. We know he was angry though, and that use of such a term will have been in integrity with that anger. One thing is clear – the incident certainly got him into hot water.



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