May Hot Take: Words Matter AND Words Can Divide

Words matter. As a brand storyteller, I have emphasized this in my work with clients. They can be used to provoke or unite us. To inspire or anger us. They can be used as peacemakers or weapons.  You can just turn on the news or listen to political talking points to see this in action. 

In our highly charged politicized world, and the challenge of ever-changing language, it can be difficult to keep up with what is the current acceptable word and what, just a few years ago, is now no longer socially acceptable to say. But it is about more than just being politically correct, it is about respect for other human beings. Today, I talk about some of those questions that we should all be asking ourselves and how, together, we can do better to understand the power of our words to make the world a safer space for everyone. 

To access the episode transcript, please click on the episode title at 

Key Takeaways:

  • In today’s world, words such as diversity, inclusion, and equity have been politicized and falsely equated to concepts to which they do not belong. Words such as freedom, patience, and love have also been politicized and weaponized. 
  • There is nothing worse than being misunderstood, when others take a whole other meaning from what you said rather than what you actually meant to convey
  • Discernment is required – when is it worth us attacking each other over word usage, instead of focusing on the cause the word represents?

“We should strive to honor others and use the right words that don’t demean or oppress. If words are being used to do that, we should adjust. We also should not let words stand in the way of or distract us from the real work either.” —  Maria Ross

References Mentioned:

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WIT Regatta

The Empathy Edge podcast, Dr. Suzanne Wertheim: Why Inclusive Language Matters

The Empathy Edge podcast, Daniel Jahn: Racial Solidarity and the Psychology of Racism

Jonni and Maria Go There! Podcast – Apple, Spotify, Google, Audible

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