Being Mindful When Using Words as Linguistic Symbols

Posted: September 24, 2014 in Effective Networking

Linguistic symbols are used on a regular basis to give a positive or negative connotation to a particular subject in an attempt to shape public opinion. When you say the term “illegal alien” the first image that comes to mind is a foreigner that has entered the country illegally. If you say “undocumented worker” you think of a person who isn’t a U.S. citizen being exploited by companies that don’t want to pay the associated costs to hire U.S. citizens.

Another example of the use of linguistic symbols was during the economic collapse when all indicators predicted that the U.S. banking system would fail and therefore destroy the economy. The money given to banks to keep them afloat was called a “bailout”. After the outpouring of anger from the public the term was quickly changed to a “stimulus package” but the damage to the image of the program had already been done.

Particular words invoke emotion and with this in mind people can use linguistic symbols to create a positive emotion or misuse them to generate hateful emotions. Today we find many groups using and misusing linguistic symbols in dramatic ways on buttons, badges, bumper stickers-many of them emotion laden. When we’re networking with others we need to be aware when we hear people using linguistic symbols to garner a specific response and gauge if it’s being used for positive or negative motives. Also being mindful in our own use of linguistic symbols when we’re networking with others to have good intentions.


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