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How to Use Gender-Neutral Language in a Professional Setting

Gender neutrality is a pressing issue in the modern workplace, as inclusivity has become a top priority for progressive companies. But as things are today, some writers don’t know how to choose “non-gendered” words for communication in a professional setting.

Working with expert writers from the best essay writing services can help you learn how to use gender-neutral language correctly when communicating with colleagues, clients, and customers. This article will discuss gender-neutral expressions and why they are essential in the modern workplace.

What Is Gender-Neutral Language?

Gender-neutral language refers to a way of speaking (or referring) to people without assuming their gender. Whether it comes in the use of pronouns (“they” instead of “he/she”) or gendered words, the gender-neutral language includes everyone in the discussion.

Some critics argue that gender-neutrality in communication is a recent phenomenon, but scrolling through pages of old text will show you that authors have been using it for some time.

Nevertheless, the evidence is clear. Most old texts and common expressions are not gender-inclusive because they focus on the masculine gender.

Case in point: “Hello guys, all men are created equal.”

5 Tips for Using Gender-Neutral Language

Here are some tips for using gender-neutral language in the professional setting.

Always Search for Gender-Neutral Alternative

Since we grow up picking up language cues from our surroundings, most people don’t even know that some expressions are not gender-neutral.

For example, you always wait for the “mailman” to deliver your parcel, but the “delivery person” could be a woman or a non-binary individual.

Some gender-neutral alternatives for common expressions include:

  • Chairman → Chairperson
  • Businessman → Businessperson
  • Freshman → First-year student
  • Fireman → Firefighter
  • Congressman/Congresswoman → Legislator
  • Salesman → Salesperson
  • Mailman → Delivery person, postal worker
  • Manpower → Labor force, workforce, workers
  • Stewardess → Flight attendant
  • Housemaid → Housekeeper

Also, you need to practice using gender-neutral language in everyday communication. Instead of struggling to find out the “husband” or “wife” in a marriage, you can just refer to the person as a “spouse” or “partner.” Through constant practice, you’ll become familiar with gender-neutral expressions for everyday communication.

Keep Greetings Gender Neutral

When writing an email or message, we often fall into the trap of “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Hello guys.” These blunders are natural, but you can avoid them by using gender-neutral alternatives.

Here are some inclusive greetings to use:

  • Hello guys → Hello everyone/team
  • Dear Sir/Madam/Ms. → Dear [professional title]
  • Dear Mr./Mrs/Ms. X → Greetings

Accept When You Make Mistakes

You will slip up when communicating with non-binary colleagues, but you need to accept your mistakes and make an effort to improve.

Companies now ask employees to specify their preferred pronouns in order to avoid misgendering. When in doubt, you could always ask the person how they wish to be referred to.

And if someone asks you to refer to them as “they” instead of “he/she,” just do it as common courtesy. It will take some time to get used to the new way of referring to people. Even those you talk to will raise an eyebrow whenever they hear you say something like “humankind.”

Don’t shy away from the questions. Use this opportunity to educate others by showing them examples of the potential harm of misgendering people.

Don’t Qualify Gender-Neutral Words with Gendered Adjectives

As part of the learning process, you might also fall into the trap of becoming over-specific in how you address people. And that’s when expressions like “female athlete” come to the fore.

If the word is already gender-neutral, you don’t need to qualify it again to specify who you are talking to. After all, a female athlete is still an athlete.

Use Grammar Checkers

Tools like Grammarly point out gender neutrality in sentences. So whenever you let “fireman” slip into your writing, Grammarly will point out this error. And with one click, you can quell this potential fire like an actual firefighter.

Why Use Gender-Neutral Language?

If you are wondering why all the fuss about gender-neutrality, here are the reasons why:

  • The workplace is changing rapidly, and the lexicon needs to adjust to address the failings of the “good old days.”
  • Women and LGBTQ+ people are breaking the male dominance in the workplace. So, they need to feel included in the conversation.
  • Using gender-neutral language shows that you are empathetic and willing to function as a team player. This trait will help you land jobs in progressive companies.
  • Modern writing guidelines from APA, MLA, and Chicago all stress the importance of gender-neutrality. They also provide practical suggestions to help you learn inclusivity.
  • It is just less stressful. Instead of mentioning all the possible genders, you could just use the singular “they” to cover the spectrum.

Conclusion

Gender-neutral language allows you to refer to people with accuracy and inclusivity. Start by changing all gendered words in your lexicon to gender-neutral alternatives. If you know a gender-neutral noun, don’t use gendered adjectives to qualify them. Instead, ask the person you are addressing how they wish to be referred. And above all, use empathy and understanding when talking to others.

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