Rescue Me.

I was rescued today on the Metro North train line.  Rescued, at least, according to the train conductor.  Because the engine went kaput on my train, we were awaiting a new engine to be delivered and were assured that we’d be “rescued shortly” and I was thanked for my patience (along with hundreds of others). All of 9 minutes went by before the rescue came and we got off the train in Harlem to catch another train.  In the meantime, a half dozen of the passengers were making phone calls alerting their loved ones and bosses to the “rescue situation.”  Profanities were uttered and every minute or so the conductor would remind us of the rescue coming our way. There are some serious rescue situations going on in this world (ie the economy, for one, or the recently downed US Airways plane).

Must we use this word “rescue” (and others) so lightly and cause unnecessary fear and consternation? As communicators framing events and stories every day, let’s be sure to use the right words when explaining a situation or crisis, and to use our words sparingly and smartly.  (Of course, the conductor is not in PR — that’s not her job.)

So: are there certain words that get your goat — that are unnecessarily panic-driven when others words would have sufficed? Please share.

– Diane Schwartz

  • matthew

    How about, “Recession Proofing.” I’m using this buzz phrase for any and everything.

  • Dano

    As our language continues to wither under pressure of social media and instant communications, I couldn’t agree more for the need to chose our words carefully. That’s why I’d ask that you review your post and reconsider the use of “deplaned” as a verb to describe your disembarking from the train. Exiting, getting off or simply leaving might have been better choices.

  • Jon D. Wilke

    Choosing our words carefully is an art form. But boiled down, we either convey the right meaning or the wrong meaning.
    Today, words are laced with connotations that we may not understand. Different backgrounds, worldviews and education levels influence how we hear and comprehend language.
    As we all understand, communication works two ways-sending the message and then having that message received properly. That’s where heart-language communication is so critical.

  • Paul Sevensky

    You point out a noble goal of choosing our words carefully to convey the proper meaning. However, it seems we’re losing the ability to even pick the correct word.

    In the last week, I’ve read about “well-healed” media firms from MediaPost, the “press core” on the PRSA web site, beliefs that were incompatible with an organization “tenants” from the Family Research Council and the fact that traditional retailers were “loosing” the search marketing battle, again from MediaPost. So far, only PRSA corrected their reference to “press corps” after I commented. I’m still waiting to see well-heeled, tenets and losing — but I think it’s a losing battle.

    P.S. I agree with Dano on “deplaned.”

  • dschwartz

    I should not have deplaned that train. I got off the train at Harlem. Thanks for the input! I’ve updated my post.