Five Words Or Phrases Most Often Misued and Misunderstood. . .

What are words? They just are a group of letters selected to form a particular pattern and out comes a word. The word has no power except in a particular context and only when we give it one. People think they know when to use these words but often use them incorrectly or to allude to something different than what they were trying for. Who are the worst offenders? Politicians. and speech writers. Next on this list of offenders: Parents

After paying some attention to life around me I have come to understand there are 5 words/phrases that are used and abused more often than many others. The damage done when a word is misused can literally be catastrophic.

1.  Responsibility: The big issue with this word is that it is usually used in conjunction with an act or a behaviour that suggests someone is, in fact, to be held accountable for a wrong doing of some kind. For example: A kid hears “it was your responsibility to look after your little brother and now his arm is broken.” It is also used to shift the blame for a particular outcome to someone other than the one who needs to be held accountable. In this case the parents needed to be sure that the child was looked after by someone who was capable of doing that.

2.  Diversity:  Meant to relate to a variety or a range of different things. Again this word has become one of the “buzzwords” that are used to help make someone sound important or well educated. There is noting wrong with that unless it is just that. A way to make someone sound more professional. What is diversity? Who are members of diverse groups? Are homeless people considered to be diverse and if so why aren’t they treated the same way as other ‘diverse’ groups? Can some folks be considered diverse and others are not? Based on what? Too often it is a word that is used to try to connect someone, the speaker, to someone or something else. Politicians and public officials love using buzzwords because they feel more connected to the crowds they are trying to impress.

3.  Accountability:  The word ‘Accountability’ can actually have a positive connotation to it but is most often used to hold people ‘responsible’ for their actions. It is a very judgemental word in itself. “You will be held accountable for your actions.” You have already been found guilty of whatever when someone says this to you. Are you ever held accountable for the good stuff you do? Does anyone ever say that “the books balanced nicely at the end of the year–Jerry has once again satisfied his reputation for being accountable when regarding his expertise as an accountant.” It is a word that immediately suggests wrong doing of some kind.

4.  Transparency:  I found it difficult to get a clear definition for this word beyond ‘see through.’ I get the general meaning of the word but politicians mostly, public officials and those who want to convince the gathered masses that he/she is very committed to bringing the truth to light and keeping it that way are the ones that seem to use this term the most. It is no guarantee of honesty or good will. Just ask Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.  Now when someone uses that word to try to convince me that they are honest and on the up and up–I’m out of there. That’s like a thief asking for your wallet and telling you that it’s in good hands–don’t worry I got it. Right.

5.  Boots On The Ground Tied With ‘Baby Bump’:  First of all I find it so disrespectful when we refer to our soldiers-our military personnel-those asked to sacrifice their lives and their futures as fathers or mothers–as ‘boots on the ground’. They are human beings. They are the brave ones. They are not just a pair of boots on the ground but rather a person who will never be the same as the person who left to do his duty. The least we could do is honor him/her with the recognition they deserve and not some statistic in a book some where.

And ‘baby bump’–what the heck is that? There is a little human being in there-a wee person–a living entity. This is a pregnant woman we are looking at here not some speed trap on the highway. How impersonal is that. I get that it is supposed to be cute but it is not-at least not for me.

So when we talk to our kids we need to be very careful the words we use to express ourselves. Once said there is no going back. Once the toothpaste is out of the tube you can’t put it back.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–all the best, Jim

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Author Jim Cloughley's 
Brand New Blueprint For Learning