The 1 familiar phrase that's no longer acceptable at the office

Chris Matyszczyk
Poll Reveals Worst 'Office Lingo' Comments Bosses Make
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I bet you hear it every day. I bet it comes naturally to you. Some, though, say it should stop.

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

This is not a message from the Word Police.

At least that's what the head of the Word Police says.

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Wait, I may have got that wrong. But only partially.

You see, some words and phrases are now being studied more rigorously than ever for the effect they have on others.

The latest phrase to come under scrutiny is one you hear many times during the week.

It's guys. As in Hey, Guys. Or You Guys.

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And not as in These Guys Still Won't Steady My Crane. Where guys refers to things that guide an object or keep it in place.

I digress.

You see, Australia's Diversity Council has decreed that referring to a group that might contain females as "guys" is deeply sexist.

The head of the Diversity Council, David Morrison, told ABC News that, despite many people thinking the word guys is gender-neutral, it has no place at work.

"I have now removed that from my lexicon as best I can," Morrison told ABC. "I think it's important."

He isn't alone.

Some feelthat the phrase You, guys is a reminder that so much of culture and vocabulary comes from a male-dominated society.

Others think that notion is so much twaddle.

I confess that having been born over in that Europe place, I was a touch astounded to see women refer to their own female friends as guys.

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I had to assume that, along with believing that everything was awesome, this was just normal American behavior.

Clearly, though, this usage has spread across the world, as does pretty much everything American.

So perhaps we should focus more on the subtle nuances of everything we say. Even if, for a time, it makes us behave even more unnaturally than we already do at work.

The Diversity Council's #WordsAtWork YouTube video includes a few more obviously offensive terms -- men calling a group of women girls, for example.

Many of the examples are, indeed, the sort of thing that quite a few found perfectly acceptable until recently.

Perhaps that's why comments on the YouTube video have been disabled.

Morrison, who happens to be an army general and Australian of The Year, insists he isn't trying to be a policeman.

"All the campaign is doing is saying look, it's a proven fact that more inclusive [and] more diverse workforces create real diversity of thinking and are more productive, more effective," he said.

Few can argue with that. But is guys the prime example of offensiveness? Or is its very subtlety what makes it so offensive?

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And if people stop using it, what do we replace it with?

Australian TV presenter Juanita Phillips had an excellent suggestion on Twitter: "This is an excellent opportunity to reintroduce 'youse' as a good Aussie gender neutral phrase #wordsatwork #bringyouseback

Hey, youse. You's good with that?

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