Zimbabwe, We Have A Situation.

Zimbabwe: A Situation or A Disaster?

Situation is a better word than disaster, crisis or even problem. Situation is a neutral word, devoid of emotional content, or negativity. It’s not semantics either; the words you choose to describe your circumstances matter. That’s one of the first lessons that smart marketers and influences of every kind learn about communication.

The words you choose have a massive influence on how you perceive things, people, and circumstances.  They can intensify an emotion or weaken it and your emotional state is a mega factor affecting how well you deal handle the challenges and opportunities around you. That’s why a ‘situation’ is a lot easier to tackle than a ‘disaster’, even if it’s describing the same circumstance.

Zimbabwean business is constantly bombarded by local newspapers with negative reports on the latest political and economic situations we face. No surprises there, newspapers make their money not by telling you the simple truth or factoids, but from telling you as much bad news as they can fit into a single edition. Bad news = fear, hatred, confusion…all emotions that lead to sales.

(Oh and if you think I’m exaggerating, go through ANY newspaper, Newsday, Daily News, Herald etc and see how many negative stories you’ll find vs. positive ones)

Zimbabwean newspapers have become particularly good at it too. They’ll choose the most negatively potent words they can find to describe the Zimbabwe situation. They’ll use the most emotionally powerful words in the dictionary to describe political leaders (Mugabe, Tsvangirai etc). It’s called marketing and it works.

If you’re smart, you won’t just gulp down everything their serving as is. You’ll be proactive about re-framing those Zimbabwe disaster stories in ‘situations’ that need to be taken care of or challenges that need to be conquered.

In fact if I were you, I’d watch my bad news intake all together. Otherwise before long, you’ll be like 90% of Zimbabwean politicians, entrepreneurs, employees, husbands and wives…focused on the problem, not the solution, but hoping for a positive outcome. Doesn’t work. So maybe next time you’re tempted to say “Damn it, this is a freekin disaster”, stick with “Hmm, appears we have a situation”!

3 Replies to “Zimbabwe, We Have A Situation.”

  1. “you won’t just gulp down everything their serving as is.” very true and also true of almost every paper in the world.
    Appreciating something as a disaster though personally helps me to take action. Situations, well, it can wait another day. So for me its just words, and whatever floats your boat, go with it!

  2. Interesting one Max. Just last week we were chatting with my wife and laughing at the fact that in Zim a newspaper can’t publish a single day without a story about, “Mr/Cde…under fire.” At least someone or company has to be under fire. lol

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