New for 2020 – Podcasts!
From January 2020 I’m recording each post as a podcast, in addition to the written version which you can continue to read as usual. I’m also gradually adding selected posts from the archive (going back to 2009) as podcasts. Click here or on the Podcasts tab in the navigation bar.
This blog is called A Few Kind Words because the word kindness originally meant being kin, or kindred, or of the same kind. And since we are all humankind, we should remember to be kinder to one another when we communicate. The alternative is to be unkind, to use language which fails to connect or even alienates. The choice isn’t hard. (The header artwork is by wife, Sarah.)
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I’ve called it A Few Kind Words because that’s the title of a talk I gave recently to a group of HR directors. Paradoxically, it’s HR people who are often the unkindest of all in the way they use language at work. Even the description, Human Resources – to reheat an old chestnut – seems to me a kind of relegation. It puts people on a par with the paperclips. In fact it precisely dehumanises them. And it’s the dehumanisation of people through language that I try and counter at every turn.
I do so by reminding people that the word kindness originally meant being kin, or kindred, or of the same kind. We are all humankind and we forget it at our peril when we communicate. So we must remember to be kinder to one another. We must remember that when we write something, the person who reads it will be another human being probably much like us. And if we use language that fails to make a human connection, that reduces people and ideas to abstractions, we might as well not have bothered. Language like that is worse than useless, yet the world of work is full of it.
I want this blog to be an antidote to the dead language of business. I want it to be about the colour and rhythm, the emotion and humour that we use quite naturally when we speak to one another. And I want it to be about all the marvellous possibilities that lively, engaging language could bring to our writing lives if only we’d let it. I hope you’ll join me on the journey …