Debra Ruh is a seasoned entrepreneur that focuses on Global Disability Inclusion, ICT Accessibility, EmployAbility, Marketing and Communications Strategies and Digital Media. She has provided global leadership to governments, corporations, NGOs and DPO’s (Disability Persons Organizations) all over the world supporting research, outreach, marketing strategies, policy and standards initiatives with public- and private-sector. Policy, Legislative and Technical Experience includes the United Nations Convention of Rights for People with Disabilities (CRPD), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 503, 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, W3C, WCAG 2.0 and ISO. Debra is also a seasoned Entrepreneur (founder of three firms): Ruh Global Communications, TecAccess, Strategic Performance Solutions.
Debra is passionate about Social Media and a Thought Leader and Blogger on ICT Accessibility and Disability Inclusion on social media channels with over 130,000 followers. Social media mediums include Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, G+ and other platforms. Work featured in major mediums including CBS, CNN, PBS, ABC, NBC, NPR, INC, Publishers Weekly, Fortune Magazine, US News & World Report, America’s Best, Washington Technology, and Bloomberg Business Week. Debra has published many white papers, is a newsletter editor for IAAP and a Published Author of two books:
Neil currently works for Atos as Head of Accessibility & Inclusion where his role is to help make the world a better place by delivering better technology for our customers and staff, embedding inclusive practice into the Business As Usual Processes of organisations with thousands of employees and turnovers numbering in billions.
He created the Atos Centre of Competence encompassing Accessibility, Inclusive Design and Assistive Technology Services. This team now services multiple accounts and delivers best practice, support and consultancy for the organisation. www.atos.net/iux
He delivers strategy and services working with a wide range of clients internally and externally helping them to develop policies, processes and technology solutions to meet the needs of their staff and customers. These clients include: BBC, Department of Health, Ministry of Justice, Insolvency Service, and NHS.
He is the Atos representative on the Business Disability Forum Technology Task Force and has successfully instigated the adoption of and implemented the Accessible Technology charter.
Neil is also an invited expert and contributor to theW3C Cognitive Accessibility Taskforce.
Antonio Santos is a Social Media Business Evangelist and Senior Data Intelligence Expert, at Atos, focusing on Digital Inclusion, Social Media Engagement, and Social Business. He is a Sociologist with expertise on Applied Research; he previously worked in the Media, Military, Public Sector and Telecom before joining Siemens IT in 2006 in Cork and Atos in 2011. According to Onalytica who measures online presence and influence, Antonio is the 3rd most influential employee in the world, in Consulting based on data from Twitter and LinkedIn and number one on Sustainability amongst employees of the 48 most important consulting companies globally.
In 2014 with Debra Ruh and Neil Milliken he creates axschat. A weekly Twitter chat on diversity and inclusion, who become the most popular twitter conversation on that topic over the last six years. AXSChat was chosen by Valuable 500 CEO Caroline Casey to become one of their primary media partners and to support their efforts to create a community to revolutionise disability inclusion through business leadership
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Neil Milliken: hello, and welcome to axschat with no guest today and that's down to my ADHD calendar management I managed to double book and zero book people simultaneously so.
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Neil Milliken: We do have a topic and that topic came to me this morning via my browsing on linkedin and I think it's a really interesting one.
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Neil Milliken: There was an article written by samantha ranchi.
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Neil Milliken: For the metro in the UK.
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Neil Milliken: About a new topic called micro.
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Neil Milliken: affirmations and so a lot of you might have heard of the concept of micro aggressions where.
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Neil Milliken: There is negativity that that smooth little negative assumptions in conversations and interactions people have with each other.
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Neil Milliken: The impact upon the lives of people from minority groups, including disabled people.
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Neil Milliken: But samantha was talking about.
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Neil Milliken: Actually, turning that on its head and how we can actually also.
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Neil Milliken: I actually feel better about ourselves and empower people to feel better about themselves through.
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Neil Milliken: What would be called micro affirmations and sometimes I struggle with the idea of micro aggressions because, because I think there's a lot of this comes out of it, so this will influences rather than aggression, but I can understand that they have this to the.
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Neil Milliken: wearing effect on people, so I understand the concept I just don't like the terminology.
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Neil Milliken: But I do like the terminology of affirmation, and I do like.
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Neil Milliken: The idea of conscious positivity and I think that this is an area where.
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Neil Milliken: As a community, we ought to be doing more for each other, so I thought on that, so the.
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Neil Milliken: On that thought hand it over to Deborah who is always talking positively about what do you think of the idea.
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Debra Ruh: Well, and you know it it's interesting because I do always try to talk positively but i've actually had people over my lifetime criticize me for that I remember one time a boss, when I was in the banking industry said.
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Debra Ruh: They were there was like a team of four of us that reported to this executive and he said well.
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Debra Ruh: This one gets her way because she she bullies everybody, and this one gets away by being you know this, he said Deborah you get your way by being Nice, and I remember thinking.
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Debra Ruh: Well, I tried to be nice because I want to be nice i'm not doing it to try to manipulate people, but at the same time, I really did think a lot about that and I thought I don't think i'm doing it to manipulate people, but then I realized.
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Debra Ruh: Maybe I did a little bit, for example, when I was a young woman, I was a waitress and I don't know why, but I never liked working on Sundays I wanted Sundays off, and so I would deliberately be nice to the managers.
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Debra Ruh: Tell them I like their shoes which I did, like their shoes, but I also was trying to make sure I got Sundays off.
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Debra Ruh: So I you know I think sometimes when somebody says something to you that sort of hurts your feelings or who you think you are it's important to evaluate it and say well.
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Debra Ruh: Do you ever use be a nice to get your way so anyway, I just wanted to point that out, but at the same time.
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Debra Ruh: There are, I love that term micro affirmations because I think there are little ways that we can help each other and i'll tell you that when.
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Debra Ruh: Probably a lot of people have done this, but a couple of weeks ago I was driving through McDonalds and I thought.
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Debra Ruh: You should just be nice to the car behind you I don't know why I thought this is, I didn't even really know who was in the car behind me, but I said to the lady I said i'd like to.
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Debra Ruh: pay for their their meal and it turned out, they only ordered like it was only like $3 or something I could have been you know but.
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Debra Ruh: It tickle the, not only did it tickled the woman she's a girl I love when customers do that, but the man behind me, who has I did pay attention because he blew the Horn at me.
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Debra Ruh: He was an African American older gentleman and but it made me feel so good, just to do this little tiny kindness and and I remember i'll say one more thing then let's turn it over to Antonio but.
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Debra Ruh: I grew up in a you know, there was a lot of sadness and anxiety and in my family when I grew up my mom had borderline personality disorder and it did she was such a complicated beautiful soul and I, Mr but there was a lot of always.
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Debra Ruh: Really scary energy in my house, you know, sometimes you know I won't even go into how intense it got sometimes, but as a kid I remember, I went.
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Debra Ruh: Through this period of time, when I was like seven or eight where I would smile at every adult I saw to see how many adults, I could get to smile back to me.
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Debra Ruh: which was weird, but I think it was my way of trying to control my environment so.
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Debra Ruh: I just think it all goes into that maybe if we were all a little bit kinder to each other, maybe when that car cuts you off, you could say well.
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Debra Ruh: I wonder what trauma they're walking especially right now, so I think there's never been a more important in time for all of us to be very deliberate about being kind to each other.
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Debra Ruh: Sure, to give each other, a break if somebody says something wrong you say, disabled people, instead of people with disabilities or whatever sort of all given ourselves a little bit of a break, but in Tony Let me turn it over to you.
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Antonio Santos: When when I was the kid I remember when there was no getting out of my house and I was walking just go to buy bread and people used to say hello to each other, no morning the afternoon.
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Antonio Santos: between my house and the bakery I probably made 20 people, and I would say hello to all of them, and they will say that, back to me so that that.
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Antonio Santos: Somehow normal and if you when you were not reacting people say Oh, maybe it's not feeling well, maybe there's something wrong with the person, because it was somehow.
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Antonio Santos: kind of a code between people saying hello, even when I let's say at the end of the day, I went I would go out with my parents for a walk in the in the in the in the hot.
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Antonio Santos: night in the in in the summer and We walked to other people and say, and we would still say no good night, and I even even for for stranger all people live in the same place.
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Antonio Santos: And and and and today, even if if people know each other quite well they know the faces that is somehow it's somehow gone and when i'm when I went to Cork.
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Antonio Santos: into a few years ago in south of Ireland, all the people do this do that strangers.
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Antonio Santos: So, young people, they wouldn't do that, but all the people if if they will pass you in the street, they will say hello, and then you will you look.
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Antonio Santos: At this person talk with me and you feedback because we're not used to that I think sometimes you know, maybe we need to recover islet with of that, but the instead of just doing it.
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Antonio Santos: Instead of just throwing it around us, maybe we should do it in the social networks, as you all know, this saying hello.
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Antonio Santos: just trying to be nice to people, and if we have more people doing that maybe people have LTE or feeds people, maybe people start feeling better with their with their experiences and things around.
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Neil Milliken: yeah I think that.
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Neil Milliken: That civility in society is something I would always love to encourage and I.
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Neil Milliken: talk to strangers and people look at me weirdly because i'll be there i'll be the nutter at the bus stop but starting conversation.
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Debra Ruh: In the elevators.
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Neil Milliken: yeah.
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Neil Milliken: yeah absolutely.
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Neil Milliken: So I can't help myself and, yes, I think that that.
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Neil Milliken: is definitely a difference between there is a generational difference, I think that that we do notice.
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Neil Milliken: each other more in the streets when we're not on our phones and i'm guilty of that.
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Neil Milliken: of being buried in my device and not paying attention but but equally in the digital world, we can also have that civility.
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Neil Milliken: And ought to, and so the concepts that sound ranchi was talking about was was was saying that the little nice things and and and but with sincerity, so your point actually about the tunes was.
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Neil Milliken: with something that you picked up in her article, where she was saying don't tell someone that.
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Neil Milliken: You like flowers, if you don't.
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Neil Milliken: Make make your compliments and the comments meaningful.
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Neil Milliken: Because people know.
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Neil Milliken: And and sort of.
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Neil Milliken: And and and just that sort of.
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Neil Milliken: Mindful gratitude as well, I think it's really something I think that the i'm conscious of that need to moral and making sure that I think people for for doing stuff and don't just do it the one.
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Neil Milliken: You know, but i'm doing it regularly and telling people where I appreciate them and stuff like that, because I think that when you, particularly when you have a long term health condition or disability.
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Neil Milliken: You don't feel confidence in yourself, you don't necessarily feel good about yourself all the time.
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Neil Milliken: and
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Neil Milliken: you're living in a world of micro aggressions still struggle with the with the word aggression, because I don't think.
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Neil Milliken: Some people, maybe are using it aggressively, but I think mainly.
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Neil Milliken: Our micro micro ignorance, is more than.
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Neil Milliken: They get you down and they impact on your on your well being and your mental health, so people taking that conscious effort to build you back up, I think, is is something that i'd encourage the Community to do so, I love the fact that she's written about this.
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Neil Milliken: And how do we, you know, there are you know, there are some hashtags already you know there's you know this became hashtags but.
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Neil Milliken: How do we get people to actually act on it and to do that consistently as well, because it was some of it is mindful.
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Neil Milliken: You know some of it's human nature, you get some people that are always saying nice things to people and and so on, but they're also you know that sometimes you get into a habit of not communicating how much you appreciate.
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Neil Milliken: People So how do we, how do we encourage people to do that more.
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Debra Ruh: And I also think, I also think there.
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Debra Ruh: is sometimes when you are a nice person, because I, I do always try to be nice sometimes people will.
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Debra Ruh: Miss misunderstand that and I will say that as a woman, I mean i'm in my 60s now, but by you know, like yeah I was cute when I was, I was younger and sometimes when I would be nice to guys, they would get confused about.
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Debra Ruh: They would think I was being they would think it was something else other than I really am just being nice to you just because i'm nice to you as a woman as a cute woman at the time.
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Debra Ruh: didn't mean that I wanted to sleep with you, for example, and so I have had people miss like that those think you know i've had people miss use my niceness but, as you said.
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Debra Ruh: Neil when you can always tell the energy you always know where somebody's coming from, but I also want to take it back to something that happened on her access chat last week, where we were one of the questions that I came up with.
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Debra Ruh: Which got very interesting replies to was you know, can we be more welcoming in the accessibility and the disability inclusion field and.
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Debra Ruh: I know, one of the participants and i'm all of a sudden i'm forgetting who it was he's like oh i've had everybody i've met has been so nice and generous and I haven't had a negative response at all and I thought well.
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Debra Ruh: Maybe that's good because i've been in this industry for 22 years so when I first came into the industry in the States.
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Debra Ruh: People weren't very welcoming they were not welcoming they actually were in some cases, trying to.
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Debra Ruh: Actively discouraged me from coming in saying we don't need you parents in because they when I was coming in, I was you know talking about Sarah.
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Debra Ruh: And so maybe maybe things are better now maybe people are being a little bit kinder and Nice to each other, but I still unfortunately am seeing people still be mean to each other in the industry, and you know even.
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Debra Ruh: You know you use the word overlay, for example, right now, and there are a lot of people appropriately really mad at some overlay makers but does that and I know that when I was on this one webinar are we were talking a little bit about it.
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Debra Ruh: Somebody brought up somebody that we'd recently had on access chat text help, and they were saying well browse allow their lover and I said well.
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Debra Ruh: let's be very specific that they are not an overlay and that there is just a technology and you still need to go and make sure everything's accessible, so I.
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Debra Ruh: I hear people attacking them, for example, but the reality is that's not what they're saying and they've never been saying that so.
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Debra Ruh: That to me are a little bit of micro aggressions and I think we could do a little bit better I love you know micro affirmations, but I just.
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Debra Ruh: There are so many reasons why we need to make sure that we are being a little bit kinder to each other and that we're supporting each other and.
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Debra Ruh: I understand what you're saying Neil, when you say, was it really micro aggressions or micro ignorance.
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Debra Ruh: Maybe it is micro ignorance, but at the same time, I think we now have the responsibility to think before we speak and to really take the time to.
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Debra Ruh: ponder our ignorance and I will give one more example then turn it over to Antonio but I was talking to my son Kevin room he's our chief marketing officer and I was using an example of something I heard that I was discouraged about and I actually used this one word.
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Debra Ruh: which we are not allowed really to use, but I was using it, so he really I was using it just to tell them what I was talking about, and he said I don't even think we should use the word in this context.
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Debra Ruh: I think that we should very deliberately take that word 100% out of our vocabulary, even if we're using it.
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Debra Ruh: To explain a grounding purpose, because there's so much hatred in that word, and I remember when he was saying that I was thinking about whether or not I agreed with that comment, can I use that word and.
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Debra Ruh: I don't want to use the word, but it is a word that somebody that is white should be using and it is a word that begins with an end and.
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Debra Ruh: And, but I wasn't using it in a in a mean way I was using it to talk about how I was hearing somebody else use it, but so I don't know, but I think right now.
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Debra Ruh: In our efforts to be kinder to each other, we need to be more deliberate about once again what is her ignorance, what is our maybe accidental micro aggressions that we don't work.
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Debra Ruh: That you don't mean to be doing it, but it still has the same results sorry, and I know we can, if we're paying attention we can tell people's energy.
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Debra Ruh: But sometimes people are so stressed out.
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Debra Ruh: They can't so Antonia Let me turn it over to you.
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Antonio Santos: know is just remembering something that you know that sometimes I don't pay that much attention but but is.
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Antonio Santos: We all have different use different vocabularies in slang and and this.
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Antonio Santos: is something i'm not able to explain this maybe it's because of my mother, perhaps, but I was always that that kids will never use any bad words against anyone even today.
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Antonio Santos: I don't use any of the other words in Portuguese language I don't use them look let's say in in in 365 days of the year.
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Antonio Santos: I might see it once and it just but even so it's something very soft considering all the words that exist out there, so.
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Antonio Santos: For some reason.
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Antonio Santos: I found that I don't really need to use them.
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Antonio Santos: know because in the end you're going to use them against someone else and and you can sometimes if you have an argument, they are stronger words.
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Antonio Santos: That you can use we're not that offensive, but as an admin that you can see people who can have a kind of a more any impact so it's.
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Antonio Santos: it's quite an even even today when when i'm with know with my daughter or with kids sometimes.
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Antonio Santos: The kids start to notice this and they realized that in the all family members and the only one that doesn't say all those words.
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Antonio Santos: So, so you know it's quite interesting to see how we know balancing that and the in this case i'm not able to explain exactly why I don't use them, I just don't feel myself right in using them, you know.
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Neil Milliken: I think that.
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Neil Milliken: there's an interesting psychological thing, and also, I have this sort of.
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Neil Milliken: I have a terrible potty mouth, so I use all the words but never on social media and and also that really it's it's.
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Neil Milliken: Certainly I mean i'm fascinated by language and fascinated by words and sometimes I I enjoyed the impact of swearing However I wouldn't do it.
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Neil Milliken: on social and swear words are different from the kind of words that we're really talking about in terms of.
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Neil Milliken: Micro aggressions on our slides or whatever, where where they're insulting in the in the same way, so I think that they're like this, like differences but but I again, this is a switching in my head between between the two things.
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Neil Milliken: I think this is this will be a great conversation for Twitter and we can have some debates on this so.
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Neil Milliken: We need to close now because deborah's internets just died and.
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Neil Milliken: And we're timed out for the week, but thanks to our supporters Barclays My Clear Text and, Microlink for keeping the lights on and keeping us going we'll see you on Twitter.