Have you noticed in recent years that our everyday language has become weaponized?
We have replaced “tools” and “toolkits” with “weapons” and “arsenals.”
To respond to a crisis, we now have “SWAT teams” who meet in “war rooms.”
When we need more power at the table, we bring out the “big guns.”
People who are amazing are now “the bomb.”
When someone does a good job, they “killed.”
In taking drastic steps, we now exercise the “nuclear option.”
When someone is blamed, they are “thrown under the bus.”
Think about that last one for a minute. We have actually turned a bus into a weapon. I remember the first time I heard someone throw someone else “under the bus,” I got an image of a school kid getting run over, which was distressing and appalling. I remember thinking, “What a terrible phrase!” Then, I started using it, along with all of the others above, without giving it a second thought, because it is part of the culture and I want to fit in.
Does it matter that we have moved toward weaponized language? Does this shift reflect a higher tolerance for violence? Does it reinforce and perpetuate it? I think so. I believe that using metaphors of weapons desensitizes us to violence.
I have decided to be more intentional about my use of language to bring as much peace into my everyday conversations as possible. If you agree, please join me. Let’s take this small step to change the culture!
For radical ideas on how to improve the work culture (and larger culture), please see my book, “Management Culture” at mgmtculture.com or amazon.com.