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The words we use

In a lot of the training I do about working with young I spend time on communication…the language we use when we speak; the words we choose, the intention behind those words. And it is all really obvious stuff: decide what it is that you are trying to do, choose words that will get that result, think about what ideas you would like to have in the other person’s mind, say what you would like to have happen rather than what you don’t want to have happen, speak in the positive rather than the negative. The simplest example would be something like, if someone is coming home late or coming to class late, then we ask do NOT ask them to ‘stop turning up late!’ We ask them to turn up on time. And better yet, we give them the time we want them to turn up at. You really don’t want the word ‘late’ in the person’s mind. We want the idea of  ‘turn up on time’ to be front and centre. Not hard is it; not rocket science. And yet all of us seem to constantly be defeated by frustration, anger, hurt or whatever other emotions are prevailing at the time.  But this is momentary, and hopefully we get a second chance to get it right. So it amazes me that journalists, who get a chance to think about what they are writing and the words they are choosing, and the impact they want to have, are presently enjoying adding to the hysteria around economies across the globe. An exception being the sensible and responsible Ross Gittens in the Sydney Morning Herald of 28th september who has this to say of global economic matters:

‘In truth, the main thing we are doing is putting the wind up ourselves long before its is possible to know what will happen and how seriously it will affect us in Australia.

My guess is, what will hurt us most is our fear of the possibilities, not the ultimate events.

The trouble with moods and feelings is their ability to influence hard economic facts.’

As it is when speaking with young people, journalists would do well to listen to Ross Gittens and decide just what it is they would like to have happen, THEN choose words to make that come true. And hopefully what it is they want to have happen is something good for all of us.

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