I’m scared of speaking and getting it wrong – how can I avoid being a Kevin?

Article from NWS Academy Member – Laughology


In today’s world, do you ever feel scared of saying the wrong thing for fear of insulting someone? Our Doug is a little fed up with it, so he’s letting off some steam – and a suggestion – in this week’s post.


Keeping up with an ever-changing world

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to upset anyone. What I do want, though, is the end of that crippling awkwardness that seeps out of me when I feel like my sentence has started badly!

I like to think my heart’s in the right place (my sister might disagree, but she smells, and nobody likes her), and I like to think I’m pretty progressive. Still, the fear of saying something the wrong way with the wrong audience has put the heebie-jeebies into me, making me terrified I’ll end up as an internet “Kevin” – the male “Karen”.

The world is changing at an incredible rate, and it can often feel hard to keep up. I’m very aware I don’t know much about many religious beliefs, the trans community or the values and attitudes of many minority groups. These worlds are not worlds I grew up in, and often the fear of saying something incorrectly about them leads me to say nothing at all.

I’m conscious that there are similarities between that stereotypical old granny or grandpa using racist language because it was “normal” when they were young, and me saying I don’t understand what I can and can’t say anymore.

Having said that, my awareness of where I am and my eagerness to change my language, adapt my behaviours and accept change counts for something, right? So all I ask is that you bear with me whilst I’m on my journey. As Russell Howard summed it up – “I’m going to get things wrong, but I’m trying, so correct me, don’t yell at me”.


Unconscious bias

One thought game our Laughologists pose during our unconscious bias session is: “Picture your inner circle of friends; what do they look like? What level of education do they have? What life experiences do they have?”

I hadn’t thought about those questions too frequently before starting work with Laughology. It’s very eye-opening to realise that apart from one friend from Uzbekistan, all the answers are “they’re the same as me”. So if I ever needed to go to them for another point of view, I’m likely to get similar answers to my own.

There’s a complete lack of diversity of person and, therefore, a complete lack of diversity of thought.

Diversity of thought is the idea that diversity is found through life experience, skills and ways of thinking. We know this can benefit the workplace as new perspectives bring fresh ideas, and innovation comes more naturally.

Yet, diversity of thought doesn’t only need to be achieved by diversity of demographics. Unfortunately, many organisations and industries believe this is the simplest method, which is why we see lots of targets for representation.

But I can’t do that with my friendship group, can I? Would you be friends with someone that wanted you as a friend because you filled a quota?

Me neither.


Moving forward with kindness

Now I don’t have all the answers (or I’d be a wealthy man riding a jet ski, not writing a blog), and I doubt I ever will, but I refuse to be ridiculed for making mistakes or challenging my potentially incorrect perspectives. So, moving forward, I’m going to ask curious questions.

Not to undermine anyone but to expand my viewpoint. All I ask in return is for you to respond kindly.

This whole article has been my brain’s winding way of finally getting to the point of asking:

  • Can we all be honest with each other and confess we’re often scared of speaking?
  • Can we all agree to go on this learning journey together with tolerance and sincerity?

Surely then, the fear of speaking and being labelled a ‘Kevin’ can be something we leave firmly in the past, just like the language our grandparents used.


For more support on diversity and inclusion in your workplace, contact doug@laughology.co.uk



Share this...
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *