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Chick-fil-A list of banned words: A smart move by restaurant manager?

A Chick-fil-A restaurant manager apparently posted a list of words employees must no longer use in the workplace. Some experts say he's on the right track. 

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    Screenshot of partial Chik-fil-A banned words list posted on Reddit
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Business protocol experts and a group of high school Emerging Leaders in Canyon Lake, Texas, have nothing but high praise for the Chick-fil-A manager who posted a list of banned words and phrases.  

A self-identified Chick-fil-A employee posted the list of banned words and phrases on Reddit. The list quickly went viral. Chick-fil-A has yet to officially confirm or comment on the veracity of the list. 

According to the Chick-fil-A manager identified only as Eric, the list of unacceptable slang workplace phrases is headed by the command: "You will speak properly when you walk through these doors. These words are banned."

The list includes: “cuz;” “Bae;” “Bru;” “ratchet;” “I’m legally blind,” which was accompanied by the note “(You are not legally blind.)”; “turn up;” and other urban gems.

Also on the list is the word “Ebola,” which is banned, apparently, because employees have adopted the habit of accusing people in the eatery of having the deadly disease while working.

The word “Bae,” at the top of the banned list, was crossed off, presumably by an employee who disagreed. The manager apparently responded by writing the slang term a second time and warned that if the word were scratched out again, the employees would lose their free meal privileges.

“You are a professional, so speak professionally,” Eric, the manager, writes on the list.

While many media reports have made light of the Chick-fil-A manager’s decision to try to rein in the street verbiage in the workplace, some business experts say more managers should follow his example.

Diane Gottsman, founder of The Protocol School of Texas, spoke about the managerial move during a phone conversation from backstage at an Emerging Leaders seminar. Ms. Gottsman says that she was brought in by the Emerging Leaders Foundation to teach a select group of high school students – among other things – about appropriate workplace behavior.

“Slang and business really do not go hand-in-hand,” says Gottsman. “The kind of terms on that Chick-fil-A manager’s list are not appropriate for the professional environment – not even among co-workers.”

Gottsman, who normally coaches only for major corporations and university students, was making a rare appearance to help a group of teenagers learn proper business and interview protocols in preparation for college and scholarship interviews.

“It shouldn’t matter that this is a fast-food establishment. Employees should be ambassadors of the company,” Gottsman says firmly. “It’s not out of line to expect your employees to subscribe to a certain protocol for speaking to, or in front of, customers.”

According to Heather Swindall, board member for the Emerging Leaders project in Canyon Lake, “The students were just discussing how we are expected to speak in a professional environment during the entire morning session.”

Gottsman says that she always emphasizes the value of showing respect for co-workers, and yourself, through the use of non-slang terms, especially those that can be considered to insult, embarrass, or belittle others in the workplace.

“It doesn’t matter that the person you are using these terms with is your friend or fellow-employee. You have to know that someone is watching,” Gottsman says. “Someone is always watching.”

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