Mind Your Language

The ability to communicate is a key skill for every professional whatever their discipline.  How you communicate impacts on your ability to get engagement, influence, persuade, motivate, inspire and bring out the best in others to name just a few.


One thing I have noticed is that when it comes to communicating, we are often lazy in how we frame our communications.  We also can fall into the trap of being over dramatic in the language that we use.


I came across this recently in an article in The Independent newspaper.  The article was talking about NHS Finances.  Now as everyone knows the NHS, like all parts of the public sector has faced challenges due to the austerity measures.


What drew my attention to the article was the headline that the NHS was facing a financial crisis.  I decided to look at the dictionary definition of the word crisis.  It was defined as a time of intense difficulty and danger.


Now I am sure we would all agree that it is a period of intense difficulty.  More and more organisations are finding it harder to live within their means.


On the other hand let’s think about what an NHS in financial crisis might look like.


The first sign would probably be that suppliers were waiting months to get paid.  I am sure that the payment periods might well be extended but are they so long that suppliers are thinking of pulling out.


The second thing if it was really a financial crisis that we might see is NHS organisations not being able to pay their staff.  I am sure that this scenario is highly unlikely to arise in any government funded organisation at least in the short term.


Of course we want to make sure that everyone fully understands the size and scale of the challenges facing the NHS.


At the same time, there is a real danger that what we do is end up moving the focus away from the core purpose and alienating staff who are essential to the delivery of services.


The truth is leaders and managers have to deliver some difficult messages at times.  The important thing is to ensure that when you communicate on key issues, you take care to use appropriate rather than dramatic language.


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