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Consulting

Serious question: As a manager, is there a tactful way to suggest some pronounce "ask" instead of "axe?" I worry it undermines a team member's credibility with the client.

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**AA woman from the south here** I will say I like OP ultimate response and him maybe recognizing some bias.Overall, there's nothing wrong with helping a person work on their professional communication, but to approach them with the assumption that they're perceived as uneducated makes you sound ignorant. I have multiple degrees so, I will say I disagree with the perception of "being poor". I find saying "axe" the same as the person from Wisconsin (I think) saying "ruff" for roof or hearing people from St. Louis saying "core" when referring to their "car" or folks from New Orleans saying "beybe" for "baby". At one of my jobs early on, I would say "you all" instead of the shortening of "y'all" but I had a manager (whom I had a really good relationship with) to advice that to stop using that as it was still viewed as "ya'll". I can't even remember the last time I said either form. I also found that from time to time I say "pitcher" when I'm referring to a "picture", so again, I make a conscious effort to correct it. I have appreciated the varying views on this however. Not sure if this "racist" just ignorant (in a not knowing kinda way).

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Yeah I can't believe this is thread is still going. I'm a POC who also studied linguistics and who grew up in the northeast saying things like "yous guys", etc. It's not grammatically incorrect to say the word "axe" in the speech. If the word is used correctly and follows the normal constructions of a sentence in the English language, it is grammatically correct. But, in business, there is a language standard created and followed by anglo-Judeo-Christian men in power that everyone adheres to. A standard just like when you had to do MLA citations and format your page. I don't believe making "axe" be ok in a business setting will work just because you're trying not to assimilate and lose your identity. That would be hurting you more than helping you. Just like we put on a dress shirt for work, there's an assumption for making it this far in our careers that we certainly do have to follow the assigned language structure created by people who came before us unfortunately. Because we won't always work with someone who is as understanding of the differences between "axe" and "ask". Because not knowing that people view that word or the speech you learned at home as "incorrect" is a blocker even though it's grammatically correct. Because saying the wrong word that makes people question your intelligence when it could be avoided is silly. Don't give people ammo to use when they want to get rid of you. If you think this will never come up, well, OP is a manager who is concerned about it. It matters.

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PWC - most prople I know in south, educated ones, do not say axe

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AAVE does not help people succeed in a career like this one - it's not recognized as a valid alternative to proper English - people using it just come across sounding uneducated

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If we were honest, many folks on here would admit to (at least subconsciously) judging someone speaking AAVE in a professional services firm. But we're all so PC we pretend we don't.

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Now that's a really serious question!!

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I will say though, tread carefully. Sometimes you have to defend your team's credibility for things they can't help, and this may be one of them. My mom has an English bachelor's, a law degree, and had worked in academic administration for 2 decades. She always says "par-ci-ti-pation" instead of "par-ti-ci-pation". If someone thinks the rest of her credentials are moot because of one mispronunciation, then I'd say they are looking for a reason to discredit her. We let people slide with grammar and pronunciation all the time. Really consider if this one makes you nervous only because it's associated with BVE, not because it's just any mistake. If that's the case, then I think your job as manager is to protect your teammate from a client's assessment by giving them more than ample opportunity to show how smart they are and how qualified they are.

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This is hilarious. Saying axe has nothing to do with having an accent and has everything to do with mispronouncing a word. But if course, anyone that says that is racist and is privileged because they know better. Get the fuck out of here with this garbage. How long are we going to hold hands and tell everyone that everything they do is okay because are a unique special person and anyone that says otherwise is discriminatory?

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D2, you're adorable for thinking that solid work will outweigh the client's impression of you... if anything, it will subconsciously make them look for faults

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Axe them to step aside privately and tell them your concerns...

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I am a minority from the south and I clearly recognize "axe" as the uneducated pronunciation of "ask". It is not very common in a Southern professional settings. Poise and presentation are an important part of this job and standard English is a part of that. For those saying not to judge people on regional dialects, you would judge and question the intellect of a white consultant in California saying "Client, I'm going to save you hella money today"

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@BA1- It's low class speech and it's inappropriate and not congruent to a professional services firm. A govt staffing agency hired to do work lazy govt employees don't want to do? Well maybe it's ok there, but in a real consulting firm, you'll need to learn to enunciate. Stop giving us other black girls a bad name with that ratchet nonsense.

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I would just bring it to their attention 1 on 1. My guess is that they have been doing it since they were a kid and don't even realize they are doing it.

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I'm surprised about the intensity of some of these reactions. Anyone who thinks the client's perception of us is not the most important driver of future work and career advancement is kidding themeselves. OP asked a legitimate question because they want to help a team member succeed. I also have lived/worked in the south and would never consider using "axe" as appropriate in a workplace setting. A1 lays out a good example^^

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Can I axe you a pacific question?

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EY2 - your privilege is showing. Education really has nothing to do with. I graduated at the top of my class and frequently used "axe" and other southern pronunciations of words. I took a summer class at one of the universities and I recall one of the professors saying "axe". This stood out to me as I had gone to college outside of the south and it's one of my speech patterns I actively worked on to correct. Same thing for "doe, flo, and y'all" (door, floor, and you all). I have purposely over the years corrected my speech pattern, but not because some asshole wanted to say I sounded uneducated (which is basically what's being said here).

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As a black man aspiring to be a leader in my community and organization someday, a lot of these replies are making me really happy I stuck with Accenture. The culture here aiming to improve Diversity and Inclusion seems to be pretty absent from our competitors. You all say that it's not acceptable because that's not "professional" pronunciation but professionalism was designed completely for white men. You make the argument like associate 1 above that "How many ceos, congressman, leaders ...etc etc do you hear speaking like that" without acknowledging that the majority of those people are white men. Women and PoC try to enter those spaces, but are forced to change their appearance and demeanor to that of white men or risk losing out on the opportunity to be in that kind of powerful position. Ask yourself, if you know that they are just as educated and qualified, why does it matter how they speak if it is clearly communicated?

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A2 - thank you for saying the truth. My clients would laugh me out of the room saying "axe"

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1) it's not an accent 2) it's predominantly used by African Americans (maybe white southerners too, but I've experienced that far less) 3) I've heard many "Ivy" people use Axe so it's of course not an indicator of intelligence, but can be perceived as such by some people 4) impressions and selling are very important in life and business 5) we are all free to choose what we do and say, but we should hope to make CONSCIOUS choices. In this case, if I said axe I would at least like to know that some people perceive that as less educated. I'm then free to make my own decisions. Just as I would w "appropriate" hair or clothing styles or proposing "provocative/bold" ideas or giving "constructive feedback" to clients... 6) what to do here... I would want them to be aware of the choice they can make. If and how depends on your relationship. Perhaps share examples of where you chose to make changes and where u didn't for the purposes of "conforming". Or maybe a friend, advisor, or HR... is better to share. Thx for bringing it up and to those who made serious contributions in the thread.

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Holy shit there are some garbage people in this thread.

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*Black dude from the south, though I have a fairly newscaster type voice and pronounce all of my words fairly plainly in work settings.* 1) OP is doing the right thing by investigating and trying to help his team member. Ultimately, white people dictate what's professionally acceptable (further established in this thread). If saying "axe" is a concern, then figure out a way to gracefully coach them on saying "ask". Not that deep lol. 2) @BAH1 Makes a good point. The only reason "axe" is an issue is because it's associated with blackness and white folks haven't appropriated it yet🤷🏾‍♂️. 3) @OP...Whether they say "ask" or "axe", "ruff" or "roof", they're going to be black - saying that to say the issues of "perception" are likely deeper than language. It's cute when white folks mispronounce things and at worst, mildly annoying. It's not a potential client or career limiting factor as it seems to be here. Unconscious bias is real, and can even impact the "help" you're trying to give folks. Again though, you're doing the right thing.

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^ asking someone if they are dyslexic is a def way to get an HR call. Poor joke if that. Try again.

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