PODCAST: Words Can Have Different Meaning to Different People

This podcast discusses the importance of the words that we choose. The same words can have different meaning to different people.

Sometimes this can lead to miscommunication and interesting decisions. This podcast discusses the importance of words and their meanings to different people.

Audio not playing or can’t listen right now? Try the transcript below.

Christoph Trappe here with The Authentic Storytelling Project. Thanks for listening. Today, I want to talk about how we can use the same words and different people have different meanings for them. This came to mind the other day when I was visiting a town outside of Iowa and I asked the person at the hotel that checked me in where’s a nice place to go and sit outside and have something to eat and just kind of hang out for a little while and this person said such and such place is a good place to go. So, when we got there, we sat down and it was definitely a place where you could sit outside. You could, also, sit inside. They definitely had food, but it was really more of a party atmosphere. I mean, it was a big party. It was not a quiet and nice restaurant where you could sit outside, a little different. So, then when we sat down, we asked the waitress, what would you recommend. What’s the specialty here and she said, “Our beers. You can drink a lots of beers here.”

So, very different expectations of what we were asking for and what we got an answer to. Now, this person who told us where to go, she didn’t mean any harm.

She was trying to be helpful. She was trying to answer our question correctly. When we got there, they were nice, but it was definitely a party atmosphere over just a sit down restaurant. So, we can all used the same words and they have different meanings for us. We interpret them differently. That’s very important for storytellers, online marketers to keep in mind as we are sharing stories online. Just because we use one word or one phrase doesn’t mean that our audience does the same. The same phrase might have different meanings. I might search for “interview” or I might talk about an interview and 90 percent of the time that I’m referring to the term interview, I’m talking about an interview with another person to gather content for stories, a blog post, video, et cetera, et cetera.

For 50 percent of others around me, when you say interview or maybe even more, maybe 80 percent of those people, I really have no idea, but you see where I’m going with this. When you use the term interview, they might think about HR, right, a job interview.

Very different because they’re not journalists, brand journalists, content marketers, storytellers, or anything like that. So, they have a different perspective of the word. I give you another example of the word “storyteller”, very interestingly, has different meanings to people. So, when I talk about storytelling, storyteller, I think of content marketers, journalists, brand journalists, all those ones that I’ve already mentioned, but when I mentioned that to my wife one time, I said, “What if this title is The Storyteller or VP of Storytelling or something like that and she mentioned it to a bunch of her friends who also happened to be teachers, I think the response was something to the effect of what does this person do, read stories to children, and of course that is not what we’re thinking about at all. So, the same word can have different meanings. It’s important to pick the right ones.

If you’re starting your own blog, one suggestion that I would have is start a resource pages. So, for example, on The Authentic Storytelling project, we have resource pages. So, the words that we end up using over and over and over and over, we create resource pages, and then we linked to that. So, for example, WordPress, right, so, you can click on this word “WordPress” obviously not in the audio, but in the video, in the transcript of this audio, you can click on the word “WordPress,” and then you
can see what that is. There’s others of course. The Flesch Reading Ease tests is an example, a number of others that a storyteller, content marketing, a number of others. You can find them on our About Page. You can find a list of all the different terms and what I found is that when the terms that we use quite frequently, instead of explaining them in every single article, we link to the explanation page and we kind of get on the same page and sometimes we say, “Here’s some other words that people use for these.”

So, for example, AB Testing is one. One time, I was talking to somebody about AB Testing, and they said, “AB Testing, is that like…” and they used a different term. So, now I have added the other term and it kind of slip my mind right this second, something I think split testing or something like that. So, I also said it on that page and I say, also, sometimes referred to as split testing, and then people know, right, and the other thing that’s very nice about those resource pages is, they actually show up in search. People search for terms, like, for example, hashtag is another one that’s listed in there, Hootsuite, which is a social media managing platform. So, all those are listed and they’ll show up when people searched for specific things. Now, granted, some of them, there’s a
lot of competition. So, I probably won’t rank very high and that’s quite okay. I don’t have to be on the front page of Google for every little page that I have, but it helps me provide a service to all of you and share the knowledge that I have and the opinions that I have. Now, some of these things, they’re constantly evolving. How are people collecting news. How are people collecting content? How are they sharing it? So, but I do try to provide a service and really just share what it is that I know and that we found and that, that you might find interesting.

Okay, last example of the day and I’ll get out of here. Let’s think of a dog. What dog comes to mind? So, to me the dog that comes to mind is my German Shorthair. His name is Freckles. He’s like 12 years old. He is getting pretty old, pretty slow, moving around. He’s freckled, obviously, brown head.

Now, think about the dog that came to your mind and chances are unless you have a German Shorthair, it is probably not a German Shorthair and if it is a German Shorthair, it is probably, most definitely, not my dog unless you know me and you know my dog. Now, chances are that it’s not very likely that you know, well you might know me, but you probably don’t know my dog unless you live in Marion, Iowa which is where I live. Now, if you do know him, great, thank you for listening, neighbors, but chances are you don’t. So, which dog came to mind? It probably was another one, could’ve been a German Shepherd, could’ve been a whatever, right, could’ve been anything, probably something that’s close to your heart. So, something that you grew up with, maybe your neighbor’s dog if you don’t have one. So, the point is that just the word dog can have different, different meanings, might look differently. I mean, obviously, we all know what a dog is. That’s not that different, but the way we interpret the
word, right? So, if I’m talking about dog. I might be in turn talking about German Shorthair. You might be talking about a German Shepherd. So, things are different for different people. It’s important for us to explain when we catch those things and to be as clear as we can. Thank you for listening.

It’s all about clarity and authenticity. Christoph Trappe/ The Authentic Storytelling Project.

Thanks for listening.

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