Right speech in a blue collar environment

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Disciple
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Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by Disciple »

How does a Buddhist observe the precept of right speech while working in a job where swearing and crude sexual jokes amongst co-workers is considered normal? How would a Buddhist be a able to work in such an environment and still be able to fit in with co-workers without partaking in that type of speech?

Are there any members here who also work in these type of environments? How do you deal with it?
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samseva
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by samseva »

Just don't swear and say crude jokes. Just find non-crude and offensive jokes and you'll fit in just fine. If it worries you that much, find really good jokes. :smile:
davidbrainerd
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by davidbrainerd »

Pretty much if you don't use it yourself but don't make a big deal about others using it most people won't bother you about it.
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SDC
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by SDC »

Disciple wrote:How does a Buddhist observe the precept of right speech while working in a job where swearing and crude sexual jokes amongst co-workers is considered normal? How would a Buddhist be a able to work in such an environment and still be able to fit in with co-workers without partaking in that type of speech?

Are there any members here who also work in these type of environments? How do you deal with it?
I work out of a union shop in NYC. I curse quite a bit -- usually in jest. I'm definitely not proud of it but I do believe context plays somewhat of a role since almost none of what is said would be considered harsh in that environment. Can't exactly call it "right" though. There is also a ton of arguing about safety, overtime rules and how to do the job and that does occasionally require you to have a voice and speak up (if you want things to be fair and safe). I am quiet most of the time but when the issue is serious (or requires support) I will not hesitate to be stern and direct.

On the other hand, I am able to avoid lying, divisive speech and almost all gossip. These are the most pressing for me and in my experience have the more disastrous effect in the workplace -- every day there is the opportunity for all three and it is a constant battle to not be dragged into other people's nonsense.

All I would suggest is that if you plan on holding the line with the swearing and crude jokes, really be sure not to gossip or pass around unsolicited information. The resulting discord and divisiveness in that environment is poison and can contribute to long term chaos, far more than a cuss word IMO.
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SDC
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by SDC »

davidbrainerd wrote:Pretty much if you don't use it yourself but don't make a big deal about others using it most people won't bother you about it.
Truth.
"As fruits fall from the tree, so people too, both young and old, fall when this body breaks." - Raṭṭhapāla (MN 82)
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Reductor
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by Reductor »

Where does the precepts talk about swearing and crude jokes? Perhaps the jokes are "idle', but then so are non crude ones. I also see little trouble with profanity so long as it isn't abusive or inappropriate for your position (I.e. customer service)
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by Reductor »

SDC wrote:
Disciple wrote:How does a Buddhist observe the precept of right speech while working in a job where swearing and crude sexual jokes amongst co-workers is considered normal? How would a Buddhist be a able to work in such an environment and still be able to fit in with co-workers without partaking in that type of speech?

Are there any members here who also work in these type of environments? How do you deal with it?
I work out of a union shop in NYC. I curse quite a bit -- usually in jest. I'm definitely not proud of it but I do believe context plays somewhat of a role since almost none of what is said would be considered harsh in that environment. Can't exactly call it "right" though. There is also a ton of arguing about safety, overtime rules and how to do the job and that does occasionally require you to have a voice and speak up (if you want things to be fair and safe). I am quiet most of the time but when the issue is serious (or requires support) I will not hesitate to be stern and direct.

On the other hand, I am able to avoid lying, divisive speech and almost all gossip. These are the most pressing for me and in my experience have the more disastrous effect in the workplace -- every day there is the opportunity for all three and it is a constant battle to not be dragged into other people's nonsense.

All I would suggest is that if you plan on holding the line with the swearing and crude jokes, really be sure not to gossip or pass around unsolicited information. The resulting discord and divisiveness in that environment is poison and can contribute to long term chaos, far more than a cuss word IMO.
:goodpost:
shaunc
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by shaunc »

I've worked in a blue collar environment my whole working life and sometimes you've just got to box on with the best of them. Quite a bit of what constitutes harsh language is who it's aimed at and how it's said. I certainly wouldn't talk to my workmates wives and children in the same way that we talk to each other on site and I'm fairly confident that it would also work vice versa.
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by Spiny Norman »

Disciple wrote:How does a Buddhist observe the precept of right speech while working in a job where swearing and crude sexual jokes amongst co-workers is considered normal? How would a Buddhist be a able to work in such an environment and still be able to fit in with co-workers without partaking in that type of speech?

Are there any members here who also work in these type of environments? How do you deal with it?
I used to work on building sites, and I know how difficult this can be, on the one hand not wanting to indulge in wrong speech but on the other not wanting to become a social outcast or be perceived as a snob. I don't think there is an easy answer to it.
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_anicca_
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by _anicca_ »

Ask yourself...

Is it true?

Is it beneficial?

Is it the right time and place?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, then do not speak.
"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self."

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The Thinker
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by The Thinker »

Andrea Fella: Wise and Mindful Speech


http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/6942.html
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Janalanda
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by Janalanda »

Where does the precepts talk about swearing and crude jokes? Perhaps the jokes are "idle', but then so are non crude ones. I also see little trouble with profanity so long as it isn't abusive or inappropriate for your position (I.e. customer service)
:goodpost:
If you really care about your coworkers, try not to have a snobbish, victorian england, holyer-than-you attitude. Keeping yourself from speaking certain words doesn't make you more holy. In my opinion, that is a childish, victorian understanding of right speech. You'd only be insulting your coworkers with that, actually practicing wrong speech not right speech. I once had a a coworker doing that and nobody liked it.

Kamma is intention. Right speech is about not lying, not insulting, not deceiving others etc. not about what words are been used in casual conversations. Right speech should be understood in its spirit. Ask yourself if your intentions are good when speaking. That's what matters.
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by Spiny Norman »

Janalanda wrote:Kamma is intention. Right speech is about not lying, not insulting, not deceiving others etc. not about what words are been used in casual conversations. Right speech should be understood in its spirit. Ask yourself if your intentions are good when speaking. That's what matters.
Sure, but what to do when a group conversation degenerates from friendly banter into lying, insulting, belittling, gossiping, sexism, racism, etc?

Challenge it? Remain silent? Walk away?
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binocular
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by binocular »

Spiny Norman wrote:Sure, but what to do when a group conversation degenerates from friendly banter into lying, insulting, belittling, gossiping, sexism, racism, etc?
Challenge it? Remain silent? Walk away?
If a conversation has the time and space to degenerate into what you describe, this seems to imply that the people were idle, not doing the work they were supposed to.
If you keep yourself busy, you can avoid many troublesome situations. That's something too.

Of course, some troublesome situations are inavoidable.

I have an older relative whom I need to take shopping etc. She is prone to whining and negativity and will start criticizing the current economic situation with anyone she can, such as clerks at shops. She relly unloads, not just vents. She doesn't seem to notice that people don't want to listen to her talk about those things. And it seems that it upsets her talking about those things to begin with. I've pointed it out to her, but she seems to think there is nothing wrong with what she says. She complains that I'm criticizing her.

I haven't really found a solution to this, other than that I try to take full control over our schedule together to minimize idle time; I focus on the shopping list or whatever else we need to do together and remind her of that.
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Janalanda
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Re: Right speech in a blue collar environment

Post by Janalanda »

Sure, but what to do when a group conversation degenerates from friendly banter into lying, insulting, belittling, gossiping, sexism, racism, etc?
I was rather referring to the type of language been used not to situations like that. Like: If you're at the church, speak as you are supposed to speak at the church. If you're in da hood with Snoop and his buddies, speak how you're supposed to speak in da hood. You'll be the same person on the inside no matter what language you use, and that's what is important. Speaking in all situations like at the church is not going to make somebody be more holy.
Challenge it? Remain silent? Walk away?
In my opinion, if somebody is speaking nonsense and you are in the right, I think it's good to challenge them. If you are proven wrong, then walk away. If you just don't know what to say cause you're not informed on the topic, then remain silent.
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