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oldauctionI’m not even sure what “politically correct” means, but I do hear the term used. In fact, I’ve used it, even with my admitted lack of a clear comprehension of the words.

Mostly when I hear the words “politically correct,” I think someone is noting that another term — other words — should be used in place of others in order to minimize being offensive.

For example, I have a friend who would have been called a stewardess but she is now called a “flight attendant.” I’m told “flight attendant” is the more politically correct term.

Nevertheless, should auctioneers be alert to political correctness? I think maybe so.

I was at a farm auction not two weeks ago, and heard the following announcement:

Ladies and gentlemen, gather around as we’re getting our auction underway. Now hopefully everyone is registered. We’re going to start one ring with the small farm tools and then on to the tractors while our second ring will start with the kitchen items and housewares on the other side of the house. So, you ladies make your way over there, and I’ll take the men with me over to the tools.

I watched, and for the most part, the women moved over to the other side of the house and the men headed over to the tool area — however, not without exception. There were maybe 2-3 women over with the tools, and at least 5 men over with the other women on the other side of the house.

There are men who buy kitchen items and housewares. There are women who buy tools and tractors.

Our point here is that in the light of “political correctness,” maybe a better announcement would have been:

Ladies and gentlemen, gather around as we’re getting our auction underway. Now hopefully everyone is registered. We’re going to start one ring with the small farm tools and then on to the tractors while our second ring will start with the kitchen items and housewares on the other side of the house. So, you folks interested in the housewares make your way over there, and those interested in tools come with me.

This being such a small change, and one that would seemingly take little effort, it seems to me that this would be a prudent note for auctioneers — women don’t necessarily buy any particular items, and nor do men.

And, it’s not hardly just men-women issues. Ethnicity, race, color, religion, accent, demeanor, ancestry, sexual orientation, dress, attitude … auctioneers should endeavor to make their announcements, discussions and/or comments somewhat more generic — somewhat more politically correct.

Auctioneers are in powerful positions in their community as well as regionally and nationally. Many are on television, have videos on the Internet, and even serve in Congress. Being sensitive to contemporary language use helps the entire auction community have a greater respect for auctioneers and the auction method of marketing.

Lastly, I should say that we’ve made much progress as auctioneers in the last several decades in this regard. We’ve got more progress to make, but we are doing better.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.