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Let's give the rhetoric a rest

Updated: May 15, 2021

Sometimes I think I'm back in the 1980s with Banarama and Fun boy three singing, It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it , when I observe the Covid pandemic unfold across the world, with varying the results of success in counteracting its devastating consequences.

What I find challenging and rather sad, at the moment, is the the barrage of vague public rhetoric and promises, which often do not stand up well to scrutiny, leading, in my opinion, to a lack of trust and belief in those we look to for direction and assurance.

Over the past few years in my travels, collecting the words and phrases I hear in health and social care, I have come across some impressive waffle such as:

  • There are wider conversations behind this

  • It is a good time to focus on the longstanding wicked issues 

  • I am heartened by our common purpose  

  • We should have confidence about the collective ability to meet future challenges 

  • It's not just what it says on the tin but what it says in reality 

What does any of this mean, but a filling up time, before the next meeting, with the expectation that we can repeat the same words in fortnight and no one (except myself) would have noticed. In fact what happened is that most people have forgotten what the last meeting was about, the pace of change has perceptively slowed down, and key opportunities, to help others, sooner rather than later, missed; sometimes with devastating consequences.

Refreshingly, I attended an online meeting last week, and I was surprised to hear, at last, some plain talking and a grown up, honest appraisal of success, blocks and admittance of what had not been done. I was shocked but fascinated - what would happen next?! The conversation opened up to a creative free flowing discussion about the perceived causes of difficulties in delivering services in a particular area, what had been attempted, and an exploration of future options.

So, I'm still recovering, and that's why I'm recommending we give the rhetoric a rest, and see what happens when we speak clearly and honestly to each other at work. It's never too late to improve our conversations in these testing times, to make a difference and improve the quality of lives of the people we are paid to serve.

Please #manageyourlanguage.

Carolyn is the author of the 'Manage your language, How to get ahead in Health and Social Care' series of books of useful words and phrases to use at work to help you gain confidence, and impress others. Find out more here: and Fb @manageyourlanguage

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