The world of Social Media is a tricky place. All of this communication is occurring while missing one essential element of conversation – non-verbal cues. Sarcasm font, anyone? Communication is hard and removing a portion of that effort can make things event more difficult. And word choice can make things even more complicated.
So many elements that build a conversation, conveying a message are missing from digital communication. As our conversations continue to develop and multiply we must be mindful of these missing elements as we discuss food, agriculture, and other lifestyle subjects. Facial expressions, tone, sarcasm, posture, background, eye contact, pitch, stress – the list could continue.
Can we compensate for these missing elements of communication?
One element that has been pointed out is word choice. The words we choose to describe subjects of a conversation have a big impact on how a statement is received. This impact is underscored in conversations on electronic mediums – text messages, blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts.
Is word choice important in real-life conversations? Of course, it is! But even more so when our non-verbal cues and background information are missing.
Examples of important word choice in agriculture
The words we use that make an impact on how a statement is received are as broad as a dictionary, but making the choice to use one word in place of another can impact how our message is received.
Industry vs Community
Instead of referring to the cattle industry or agriculture industry, try cattle community or agriculture community. After all, doesn’t this better describe what we are?
Think about the mental image these words paint on a first impression? It’s very true that agriculture is a community of people working together to produce food and deliver it to the plate. When you use the term industry, what comes to mind? Concrete, factories and assembly lines? While those components are part of our business, that’s not an accurately portrays the work we do or who we are.
It may roll off the tongue (or fingers) a little difficult to start with, but the use of “community” in place of “industry” when appropriate and can make a huge impact on how our message is received by audiences.
Education vs Information
This is another good example of how one term we commonly use can make a huge impact on how our message is received. How does it make you feel when someone tells you that you need to be “educated?” You’re likely to slam the door in their face and end all opportunity for conversation. So why do we do this to others?
Word choice isn’t beating around the bush
There’s nothing wrong with choosing words that describe our roles more accurately, especially when essential elements of conversations are missing. Choosing your words more carefully isn’t beating around the bush or asking for love, world peace, or a group hug.
All I’m asking you to do is consider the perspective of your audience, what context they may (or may not) have coming into the conversation, and meeting them where they’re at.
Think about it as the telephone game you played as a kid. The group passes a phrase around the room and each time the message is shared is an opportunity to create misunderstanding. Everyone interprets the message differently.
What other word choices can make a difference?
Some other word choices I’ve noticed include, farrowing crate vs maternity stall or consumer vs customer. These may sound weird, but do these phrases sound different to someone who doesn’t have a background on the subjects?
What other words can you think of in a conversation that may be chosen differently to convey a message?
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