Words Being Used To Describe COVID-19
During this very difficult time in our country, and in the world, brought on by the COVID-19 virus, here’s something important to think about.
Words Create Feelings
The word choices that we make create feelings and influence decisions in very subtle ways. Small changes in the words we use in the way we speak can have a massive impact on the way we feel and the results we get.
Word choices can potentially even change how we react to the crisis we’re in and how we come out of it on the other side.
Some of the words being used right now are:
Of course, these words are accurate, but they also create some very negative feelings and emotions.
These negative feelings and emotions probably don’t serve you or those around you very well – so here are some things to think about.
The Word “Crisis”
A crisis is terrible.
It’s definitely something to be avoided – but we can’t avoid the situation we are currently in so that makes it even worse.
Let me be clear… I’m not saying we’re not in a crisis. I’m just going to make a suggestion as to a different word that we might use here that has the same meaning, but doesn’t have quite the same jarring impact.
The Word “Lockdown”
The word lockdown is just as (or maybe more) scary than the word “crisis.”
A lockdown happens in a prison. We can’t get out. We’re stuck in here because we’re in lockdown. And… it’s even worse than being in prison – we are confined to our own cell and can’t move around at all
What a picture to paint during this difficult time!
How You Can Change Your Words and Feel Differently
So, let me challenge us to think about the words we are using and take a look at some other possible words instead of crisis, lockdown, and quarantine.
What if we called the crisis a challenge?
That’s a subtle change, but what if instead of saying “we’re in this crisis”, we said, “we’re going through a challenge?”
It’s still an accurate word to use to reflect the current events, just not as strong.
Both of these words have a meaning that is extremely similar, but the word challenge is a lot less jarring than the word crisis. Try saying it to yourself right now and see how it feels different.
What word could we use instead of lockdown?
What if we said, “staying at home”?
What if you told your kids instead of saying, “we’re locked down, we can’t go anywhere.” You just said, “we’re staying at home.”
Could that change the way they feel and react during this difficult time? I guarantee it will because it completely changes the pictures and feelings associated with not being able to go anywhere.
The Word “Quarantine”
Here’s another suggestion. Instead of using the word quarantine say, “I’m keeping to myself”.
It means the same thing, but has a completely different feeling and impact on you and those around you.
These are three words and three small changes that will change the way we feel about things and also empower you to change the way other people feel about things.
Here’s one more suggestion.
The Word “Can’t”
Change from using the word “can’t” to the word “don’t.”
Instead of saying “we can’t go outside,” say “we don’t go outside.”
This small change in wording changes staying inside from being involuntary to a choice that you are making. And it completely changes the way you and those around you think about the situation.
These are all small words and I’m suggesting small changes.
Words have a huge impact on the way we think, the way we make decisions, and ultimately how we resolve our challenges.
So, here’s my question to you:
What Words Are You Using To Describe The COVID-19 Events?
What words are you using when you talk to yourself?
I must be extremely careful about this because I read way too much on the Internet, watch too much TV, and read too many newspapers (yes… old school, I know!)
I’ve found that the words the media are using become the words I’m using. And because they use words (and pictures) on purpose to generate emotions, this is not usually for the better.
What words do you use with your family, particularly with your children?
Word choice is especially important with children because they don’t understand everything that is going on around them and the words you use tell them how to think about these complex events and some of the choices that are being made.
This is particularly important for children under the age of seven who don’t filter what you say. The simply accept it and these word choices could impact them later in life.
Finally, what words are you using with your team or your coworkers?
Check The Words You Are Using
Here’s a short exercise that will give you big results.
Take out a piece of paper and a pen. For this exercise, a paper and pen will work much better than a phone, laptop or other electronics.
Put the pen to paper right now and think about what words you’re using when you talk to yourself, when you talk to your family and your friends.
What about when you talk with your coworkers and your team members?
Write them down and pay attention to the emotions they create.
Then think of some different suggestions you can use instead.
And, one final question: Where will you use your new words first?
Thanks for joining me, and let me know if I can be of help to you or your organization!
More COVID-19 Communication Resources
Here’s a link to all of my COVID-19 communication resources.
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