Resources for Discouraging Bro-Speak in the Workplace?
January 17, 2019 2:57 PM   Subscribe

I work in the middle of a 90s beer commercial, or at least that's what it sounds like from over the cubicle partition. I'm looking for articles or other resources that might help encourage a more inclusive (and maybe quieter) work environment.

Nearly every sentence out of my (white, male) coworkers' mouths includes "bro" or "brother," punctuated with "you the man!" I'm not sure how I fell into a wassup?! time loop, but I haven't found a new job yet, so I'd like to make my immediate work environment less cringe-worthy.

Most of the articles I've found about workplace bro-talk focus more on obviously sexist objectifying language (not the problem here) and less on chest-thumping male camaraderie. This article is the closest I've found to what I'm looking for: “Hey Man”: Language and Bro Culture in the Animal Protection Movement.

Any pointers to similar material that's aimed at more general corporate audiences rather than specifically at the animal protection movement?
posted by asperity to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Unfortunately I think JamesBay may have your best solution here. There is a slim chance you might find an article or other tactic to bring this to their attention. But for them to change they have to a) be influenced by the logic of your argument, b)like you enough to take it to heart and c) have the presence of mind to consciously change what I'm sure is a deeply ingrained habit by now.

But honestly, if you are their coworker, I highly doubt they will be receptive to suggestions that they tone down the bro-speak, going from my own past experience with people who speak and behave in that manner. This is something that their manager or HR would need to put in front of them to have any hope of it being received with respect and attention. And even then, it might not take if management / HR is unwilling to follow through with consequences. Also you could be in for some unpleasant interactions if it is found out that you are the person raining on their bro-parade.

So um, tl;dr - seconding headphones
posted by ananci at 3:44 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]

I should note that it's only a small group within a much larger workplace, none of the workers involved have worked here very long, and the company has a commitment to inclusive language that our supervisor supports. I think it would be easier for him to handle it with some supporting material so that he has a better handle on the problem. If I can't find anything more useful, I'll give him the animal protection one, as it covers the main points.

Also they're so ridiculously loud with it all that even my headphones are not adequate. This isn't "bro" in normal voices, it's "broooo!" in a weird put-on voice.
posted by asperity at 3:47 PM on January 17

Anyway: not really looking for advice on talking with them or talking with my boss, just on useful supporting materials so that my conversation with my boss about this can be over in under thirty seconds. Thanks, y'all.
posted by asperity at 3:52 PM on January 17

[Y'all, the question's pretty specifically asking for resources, not personal noise management. It's okay if you don't have any specific recommendations, but just go ahead and leave the thread be if so.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:57 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]

I thought Ask a Manager might have something on this, but didn't turn up much (although you could always ask this there!). I did find a general advice column on the inclusivity aspect . If your manager doesn't personally talk this way, you might also gain traction with the notion that it's unprofessional (to internal and external partners).
posted by stellaluna at 4:14 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]

I have very little experience in an office environment, but what comes to my mind is to emphasize the unprofessional/noisy volume aspect, rather than anything to do with their gender or subculture.
posted by twoplussix at 4:26 PM on January 17 [10 favorites]

One tactic I'd use would be treating every audible "Hey brrooo!" as an invitation for you to join in the conversation. Just a "good to see you $audiomanspreader" to a loud wassup or "oh, that does sound good" to a "siiick, dude!" etc.

I suspect it wouldn't take more than a day of you having to jump in lots before they were toning things down a lot.
posted by ambrosen at 4:44 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]

Any changes have to come from leadership. Anything coming from a peer may only make matters worse.

These bro-dudes, I'm assuming are super junior? Do they have any ambition? Getting sit down and given a "this is a grownup work environment, if you want to advance, you're going to have to be more professional - (almost) all the time" talk might take.

When I was an industrial postdoc, the (shitty) company I was working for had a massive stream of revolving door co-ops and sometimes we'd get a batch that had a cluster of these bro-dudes.

For some reason, they almost always thought that I was "cool" (I'm not) - and when I saw egregiously bad behaviour, I'd growl a "not cool, dude" or for really bad shit I'd pull them aside (even though they were not my reports) and told them to cut it out because their behaviour lacked respect and professionalism, and pointed out anyone who was specifically made to feel uncomfortable if applicable. They generally got better by the middle of their first work term (semester), at least when I was around or known to be within earshot.

If these bro-dudes are management - well, at my current company we got "lucky" that the embezzling, micromanaging, con-man, dickbag was dickbaggish enough to cross the line where we were able to dismiss them on legitimate sexual harassment grounds.

His stupid speech patterns eventually petered out among our junior management, but it required everyone in management to completely pan on the "expected" response to those speech patterns (ie., something was supposed to be funny but is just stupid/disrespectful that the juniors slavishly responded to - when a junior tried that gambit, we'd just look them in the eyes with absolute neutral expression and continue on).
posted by porpoise at 6:03 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]

I can't call this resolved, but shortly after posting the question I was transferred to a different team with a lot less interaction with the bro-brigade. If I ever find any articles matching the above requirements, I'll definitely find a use for them. It's not like there aren't other workers excluded by this particular form of male camaraderie.
posted by asperity at 11:16 AM on March 12

« Older How do I set up separate wifi networks for two...   |   Bay Area tech (or non-tech) companies with... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments