Random Acts of Kindness Week is coming up (February 12-18). Of course, we should always try to be kind and to perform kind acts, right? So how kind are we being to those who happen to be a little less fortunate or a little more challenged in their lives, by tap dancing around the words that more accurately describe their situation?
People are hungry. They don’t have a permanent home. They are unable to open a checking account because of their financial circumstances. They are poor.
Are these words too harsh for people to hear? Do we feel better describing someone as food insecure rather than to face the stark reality that they can’t afford to feed their family every day and keep their lights on?
A focus group study conducted by Burness in the fall of 2023 revealed that participants found these new terms to be ” too broad, confusing, awkward, and not more accurate than the existing terms.”
When asked about the terms “food insecure” and “living in a food desert” in particular, “some felt the terms were unclear, confusing or less impactful, and some thought they sounded awkward.”
They are awkward. These words dance around reality.
Words that tap dance are called euphemisms. The very definition of that word is that it substitutes “for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.”
We may be more comfortable tap dancing around words but when we want our words to make a difference, they must be impactful. As one of the focus group participants pointed out, these newer terms do not fulfill that purpose.
Want to make sure your words are making a difference? Let’s talk.