- A boiled sweet, often bought by children in little twisted paper bags on the way home from school.
- A pejorative term meaning rubbish or nonsense.
The language our leaders use
The use of the word ’Humbug’ recently by the PM of the UK has caused a stir. First in parliament, then with the media and the public at large.
The use of such divisive language is appalling because it alienates. It is even more serious when it comes from our leaders since they are in a position of influence and should, therefore, act as role models.
When tensions are at a peak, as they are currently in this country, one little word, which may slip by without consequence in different circumstances, can cause the uproar which we are currently experiencing.
The upside to this (as an optimist there must surely be one!) is that the incident has sparked public debate about language usage from our leaders. A debate which will not end in politics, but will have a much further reach across all kinds of organisations, both public and private.
To quote the Bishop of Leeds:
It is incumbent on those who lead to tell the truth, use language wisely (with a view to consequences) and behave with responsibility and respect.
This is not about being politically correct
It is about being more conscious of the words we use. Because words, and how we say them, have the power to connect or to distance one person from another, one tribe from another. They lay the basis for relationships. They can nurture or break already tenuous bonds.
We learn how to communicate in our early years, by practicing what we hear from people in influence like our parents, family members, our teachers. When a small child can’t get what it wants to satisfy its needs it makes itself heard. Toddler tantrums are the outburst of frustration when needs are not met. If some adults don’t progress past this stage, are they to be reprimanded or pitied?
Our early years’ programming may not have given us all the best starting point in life. We may still feel unable to express our frustration and disappointment in times of stress because words fail us.
So, how can we manage difficult situations while remaining respectful?
As human beings, we all have a choice. To be conscious of how we react, or not, to any given situation.
In our communications work with people in organisations from all walks of life, we help them find ways to be more conscious – of their words and their responses.
The ability to choose these at any given moment can be trained. There are lots of ways and models to do this and what people take away has to be something that works for them.
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