Posts Tagged ‘cultural definitions’

When you hear the term “entitlements”, what do you feel? Something to dislike? Desire? Privileged? Frustration? Anger? Resentment?

When you hear the term “benefits,” what do you feel? Something that is attractive? Something good? Something you wouldn’t want to lose?

Let’s take a look at the definitions of the words from Merriam-Webster.com:

Entitlement: 1) a : the state or condition of being entitled : right b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract; 2) a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program; 3) belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

Benefits: …2) something that promotes well-being : advantage b : useful aid : help; 3) a : financial help in time of sickness, old age, or unemployment b : a payment or service provided for under an annuity, pension plan, or insurance policy c : a service (as health insurance) or right (as to take vacation time) provided by an employer in addition to wages or salary

While these definitions describe similar purposes, the words also have emotional definitions based cultural associations. “Entitle” may be equated with privilege whereas “benefit” means something good or a reward. But aren’t we “entitled” to earn money for our labor? Or do we consider our pay a “benefit”?

The words we choose to use to argue, persuade, debate and communicate overall can either work for us or against us depending upon the emotional connection other people have to those words. For business purposes, it’s important to remember that emotion drives purchase decisions. How often do we use something called “rational thinking” to justify a decision? Like 99.8% of the time – if we’re honest with ourselves.

So what can we business communicators and business owners learn from how these two words are being used in the current American political discourse about ways to reduce federal, state and local budget deficits?

Choose our words carefully…understand their definitions as well as their cultural meaning…so that we can better connect with our audiences or customers.


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