Recent days have shown just how important the words we choose are. The Government minister who said people should work more hours or get a new job to address the cost of living crisis found this out. The sentiment conveyed in the few words that were spoken had a huge impact.
As a communicator you can imagine that I am going to talk about the importance of words and how they are used, and you are right I mention it a lot. It is also our professional responsibility to check words that are being used, narratives that develop and how the business talks to employees, stakeholders and the media. We can explain how words may be interpreted or misinterpreted.
In a busy world it is easy to throw down some words, a phrase or a sentence without really considering what it means, how it looks and most importantly what impact it could have on those connected with the issue. Taking a moment to step back and reflect can seem like a luxury when in fact it is a necessity.
From a personal perspective the two weeks since my Mum suddenly died have been punctuated with words and messages sent from friends, clients, colleagues and even some people that I didn’t know. I can honestly say that they have had a huge impact on me. It is safe to say they have had a disproportionate impact for just a few words. Why is that?
There are a few reasons. They have made me feel less alone with this terrible grief that I am dealing with. They have brought a connection to people on a human level. They have been packed with genuine sentiments. They have been carefully chosen to try to bring me some comfort.
All this is what we should be doing when we are faced with producing some words, key messages or a narrative around an incident or issue. When we are faced with a crisis we can become overly focused on processes, procedures and policies. In fact, it is the people and the human connection that we should be building even from the biggest multinational. Words can break down barriers and make a connection that stretches across the globe.
My ask is that you remember the importance of this even with the shortest statement or just a handful of words. Even within these you have the chance to make a positive impact on people’s lives.