Graeme Gordon banned his children from uttering a certain four-letter F-word more than a decade ago.
Pretty understandable you might think, but it’s not that one.
Graeme hates the word “fine”.
He hates it so much that 15 years ago he outlawed the stock response among his wife Sue and their three children.
After that, he says conversation flowed more freely among family members with more open and honest chats becoming the norm.
Looking back, he reckons his children – Cameron, 25, 22-year-old Katy and 18-year-old Athol – have grown up to be better communicators because of it.
‘It’s the worst four-letter word on the planet’
Graeme, a digital technology entrepreneur who runs his own company, is preparing a speech for this weekend’s Tedx event at Aberdeen Arts Centre about the word that has become his bete noir.
We were invited in for a sneak peek at the rehearsals at the ONE centre next to Robert Gordon’s College in the city.
Graeme told his appreciative audience, made up of fellow speakers and experts in public speaking, about his crusade to prevent the word “fine” being overused.
He said: “It’s the worst four-letter word on the planet.
“We banned ‘fine’ in our house years ago as an answer to a question, and that changed the responses we would get from our children.
“That meant they had to carry out a conversation and all three are now very interested and interesting people.
“One small thing like that can make a difference.”
But the north-east has got it right….
The particularly Aberdonian use of the word, typically expressing great praise, is one Graeme is, well, fine with.
That is especially so when used to elevate a slab of cake or other sweet treat by referring to it as a “fine piece”.
Graeme said: “We use ‘fine’ so well and so often in the north-east.
“It means more than just ‘OK’, it means ‘stellar’.
“By calling a slice of cake or a biscuit a ‘fine piece’, we move it to legendary status.
“Using the word correctly can have the power to change our perception of things.”
Don’t always take ‘fine’ for an answer
But the talk goes into deeper territory than that.
Graeme believes better communication is one important way to combat shocking suicide statistics blighting Scotland.
He said: “Scotland has nearly twice the suicide rate of England, and that’s upsetting to me as a Scotsman.
“We Scots are pretty good at hiding how we feel internally, it’s built into our DNA.
“Sharing is not built into us, it’s frowned upon.
“There are many contributing factors to mental health issues and the little word ‘fine’ can hide a whole heap of stuff.”
One thing Graeme hopes people take away from his talk is that, next time a friend tells them they are “fine”, they don’t simply accept that answer and move on.
It could, he believes, save a life.
Tedx talk a dream come true for Graeme
Graeme is one of 10 speakers who will be addressing an audience of 100 people at the city’s first Tedx session on Saturday.
He has been a big fan of the Ted phenomenon since its early days, attending seminars elsewhere when he can.
“I really enjoy the format, and there is a great diverse group of people talking at this one”, Graeme added.
The one-day community conference has been organised and curated by a team of volunteers from the city’s Vanguard movement.
The speeches will be available to view on Youtube after the event. More information is available at the official website.