As business people talk the relevant language and is a common belief that every single word is always perceived and interpreted the way it was meant to be, we are often led to miscommunication and misunderstanding that does not really help the business itself.
Besides that, the business jargon is quite different from one office to another, same for sectors, cultures etc.
But have you ever wondered, what really happens when people are trying to emphasise on their communications by using words that tend to be obviously inappropriate, just to make sure that they have others’ attention?
How many times have you been the recipients of one’s call for support, while they are claiming that they have an “emergency situation”?
How about the case that one claims to be in the middle of a “crisis”?
Why do some people tend to use “extra urgent” when they refer to something they are in desperate need of your full attention? Isn’s just “urgent” enough ?
In many cases, we find out that the whole thing was nothing even close to an emergency, crisis or extra urgent situation, so we might then categorise the messenger as “The boy who cried wolf”, meaning in fact that they are never getting our attention again in any future case – even if the situation is real.
Now, try to figure out what happens when your manager calls you, claiming that there is an ongoing crisis in their office, just because their dustbin caught – accidentally or not – fire?
Most probably you will think that they are exaggerating for nothing, so they aren’t getting your attention next time. Check.
If you flip that picture upside down and imagine what will happen to your credibility if you wake up and upset your manager or – even worse – your CEO, to tell them that something is extra urgent to be communicated to them, because you are facing a crisis that you need to report, just to let them find out a bit later that the photocopier was out of paper, you’ll have them thinking twice about what urged them to promote you. You do not want that. Ever.
It is important to always add the appropriate level of emphasis when communicating a real incident that might impact the business, or some individual(s) as well, but it is also important to not amplify the real facts, but instead pass the message exactly as is.
People that have a role during a disruptive incident, are usually well trained and most of the times well-rehearsed, but do not expect that to be the case with just anyone. In many cases, people are afraid of uncertainty and panic easily, so they can be difficult to control during an evacuation or in other cases that require attention by the Business Continuity, Risk, Security, Resilience team, in order for the incident to be properly contained and return to normal operations as soon as practical.
Remember that one is always a link within an extensive response mechanism chain, so it’s up to you to choose whether you prove to be the weakest link, or not.