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