Don’t “cancel” – Postpone
The COVID-19 virus is making the world find alternative ways of being and living in this time of physical and in-person social distancing. We are all trying to figure out our new routines. This means much uncertainty, so naturally increased anxiety as we search for predictability and recognizable patterns in our new reality. So, let’s do everything we can to bring some hope, predictability and possibilities to our lives.
Let’s start with the language we use.
As humans, one of our psychological needs is to stay connected with other humans. We are finding alternative ways to invoke physical isolation and to keep some sense of social connectivity. Social in-person gathering are “cancelled”, schools have closed, restaurants in some cities are now officially prohibited from opening. Our social life, as we once knew it, is currently “cancelled”. When we hear the word “cancelled”, we interpret something is now “dead”, “gone”, “over”, “expired”, “lost”… At this time, we don’t need any more loss. We need hope to look forward to.
So, I propose to use much more frequently the word postponed.
Google defines postponed as: “To cause or arrange for (something) to take place at a time later than that first scheduled”. The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary shares: “to put off at a later time – defer”. So, instead of cancelling and feeling the loss, use the word postponed and create hope and possibilities for our future.
From a business point of view, when our customers and employees hear “cancelled”, the event is most likely going to disappear from their minds… because in our minds, it is no longer going to happen. However, when they hear postponed, it is most likely to be “shelved” or “compartmentalized”. The ideas and future possibilities are still there, ready to be invited back to the forefront of their minds when the time is right. Keep hope and future possibilities alive for your employees and customers, so we are all ready when our postponed future becomes a present reality. You have the superpower to contribute to this hope with your language.
Judith E. Glaser said: “Words Creates Worlds”
Tanya Nesterenko says: “Words Creates Reality.”
I invite you to think about your language as a currency and to use your language to positively influence and create worlds that will allow people, your organization and the world we all share to thrive in today’s new reality and our future reality to come.