Recently I read that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that “the proposed border wall between Mexico and the United States was immoral.”
I thought that was a confusing use of the word “Moral.”
In my recent post, “Ethics, Morals, and Values Defined, I defined the word moral as: “Morals is defined as of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior, conforming to a standard of behavior. In my lifetime, I have observed that morals are closely associated with sexuality, behavior, choices, and actions.” So, you can likely see why I was confused by her statement.
As we have learned so well across our lifetimes, “words matter.” As a leader, using the proper word, in the proper context, and with proper intent is important for two reasons: Your followers, and your message.
In this example, I assume that the Speaker was intending to generate an emotional reaction in her audience and followers about the on-going argument about funding for a border wall. What it did was generate confusion as her word choice was flawed. When this happens, the leader’s message is greatly diminished if not lost entirely.
As time marches on, we are finding that readers have precious little time to read for meaning and if you confuse them with your word choice, they are off to the next item in their newsfeed, Tweet, or Facebook posting. Additionally, in the 21st century political environment, it can also send your confusing message into a cycle of on-air pundit discussion, generate negative opinion columns, and distract from the argument, policy, or program that you were initially intending to advocate for.
Leaders need to be intentional with their messages, both spoken and written. Word choices matter and can be the difference between effective messaging and complete confusion. If a leader is not careful, you could end up damaging two extremely important elements of your leadership: your followers and your message. Stay strong! ~JETSR