Congruence in Messaging in Safety
Study in Semiotics demonstrates that congruence in messaging improves communication, incongruence creates miss-messaging. In order for communication to be effective there needs to be congruence not just in text, language and discourse (power in language) but also in para-linguistics (gesture, image, icon and symbol). The medium of the message is just as important as the message (https://safetyrisk.net/the-medium-is-the-message/ ).
I find it fascinating that Safety without any expertise in communication to the unconscious believes that language and images bear no relationship to each other. Research by McNeil (Gesture and Thought) demonstrates the opposite (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229068064_Gesture_and_Thought ).
All forms of messaging are intertwined and simultaneously communicate to the conscious and unconscious Mind. So, it pays to understand not just linguistics but also para-linguistics and all forms with which we communicate, this includes Semiotics. The following semiotic shows where Semiotics sits within the Social Sciences:
Unfortunately, most of these trans-disciplines are lost on Safety as it is completely locked into to the mono-disciplinary STEM approach to knowing.
Imagine trying to communicate peace, helping and care for humans and using a swastika as the symbol? Imagine using a stop sign to communicate movement and learning? Imagine using icons of objects and hope to message care of persons? This is what Safety does (https://safetyrisk.net/the-iconography-of-safety/ ) and then hopes that people will somehow be motivated to safety! Imagine using all the traditional language of safety, safety tools and icons of PPE, systems and objects and then calling it ‘differently’. Imagine that the language of resilience is somehow connected to engineering. This is what Safety does. Then wonders why the message doesn’t catch on.
When Safety gets involved in messaging it seems that all of the research available on para-linguistics is deemed irrelevant.
Imagine wanting to connect and motivate women to safety and using the icon of a shoe. Imagine wanting to convey a feminist approach to safety and using masculinist images to do so? How does this make sense? When the discourse (power in language) is incongruous with the language and para-linguistics, all messaging is lost. What is most absorbed by the unconscious is the contradiction not the message. BTW, there is nothing in either the AIHS BoK or WHS curriculum that helps with the basics of communication, messaging and engagement effectiveness. Nor will you find any perspective from the disciplines represented in the concept map above in the general discourse of safety.
If you do a search for images in safety it’s never about people or conversation, it’s about objects. Safety is known as the discipline that polices objects. Have a look at any of the institutions that hand out safety awards, the iconography is about objects: boots, glasses and high-viz, that’s how non-innovation is communicated. Good old stasis, nothing changes, all is compliant. But that’s OK because the awards usually go to institutions that invent some new way of controlling objects.
Have a look through a text in safety and it’s still Heinrich (https://safetyrisk.net/ration-delusions-and-heinrichs-hoax/ ) pyramids, swiss-cheese and a host of images about numbers. All of this concocted stuff is not just incongruous with people but promotes images that lead people away from safety into the delusions symbolized in zero. None of this works (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/it-works-a-new-approach-to-risk-and-safety/ ). None of this demonstrates Due Diligence (https://vimeo.com/manage/showcases/3938199/info ). None of this is a defence in court should something go wrong.
However, there are many positive things you can do, that work. This will mean unlearning the indoctrination fed at safety and taking on skills and learning in communication that are evident in trans-disciplines as represented in the concept map above. Even with just a little study in Semiotics and critical thinking, there might be some hope that congruence between conscious and unconscious messaging might be possible.