How we create peaceful, clear, and colorful communication through one of OSP's favorite Editing Codes: PAX.
In this episode, host Carl Richards interviews Felicity Brand, Christine Beuhler, and Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire. We talk about how we use the Editing Code PAX to add connection, authenticity, and awareness to our technical communication.
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Hi, I'm Carl from OSP and this is communicate connect grow the OSP podcast. On today's episode we're talking about avoiding violent referen es in your writing with the edit ng code PAX.About our podcast:
If you want to be a more effective writer, a more transparent editor, develop clear strategic thinking or learn from our network of expert friends and colleagues. That's what we're here for. We divide our episodes across three themes, communicate, connect, and grow. This is a communicate episode, and we're talking about using non-violent language with our editorial code PAX. The PAX editing code falls into the style and phrasing part of the editing process. It's about word choice and choosing to use inclusive and human centric language. In our documentation about this code, it says, aim to use non violent language by replacing metaphors around war, sports, and sex with other more peaceful ones.Christine Beuhler:
Hello, my name is Felicity brand. And I'm a Communications Consultant and open strategy partners. I work as a friendly house elf, I am awake while everyone else is asleep, and I edit their hard work so that when they wake up, they're ready to go again, I find PAX to be a really nteresting code it so it falls ithin our style and phrasing hase of editing. And it's about hoosing human centric language, nd inclusivity. So PAX itself i about when we're using f gurative language metaphors, a ding color, we choose to use p sitive imagery, and it aligns w th, I think the fundamental u derlying principles at open s rategy partners. We're all a out empathy and understanding p ople PAX reflects that we w ite in a positive way we write w th inclusivity. And we avoid c mbative language references to w r. It's surprisingly common in l nguage very subtle, I find P X interesting to identify op ortunities to use alternative wo ding.Jeffrey A. McGuire:
Hey, this is Jim from OSP. Again, and I'm really happy to be talking with you today about one of the more important writing and editorial codes that we have. And that's PAX P-A-X, PAX is the Latin word for peace. And this editorial code, and applying it to our communications is one of the fundamental moral and ethical decisions that we've made around communication. There's a couple of ways that we strive to be at OSP are things we strive to do and not to do. We won't write negative copy. So there's another code that I'm sure we'll talk about at some point called FUD. We don't do "fear, uncertainty and doubt" marketing or promotion for our clients or for ourselves. We want to highlight the good in whatever we're trying to promote. We try very hard to be inclusive, we try very hard to be open to learning new ideas, and the PAX principle, encapsulate the idea that we don't use violent language.Christine Beuhler:
My name is Christine Buehler. I'm a Communications Consultant at open strategy partners. And in my day to day tasks, I write blog posts, I edit landing pages, and I also help craft social media. So the PAX code is about using non violent language by replacing metaphors that are more aggressive, more violent, you know, like about sports or war with more peaceful and constructive language.Carl Richards:
Let's explore how this code is used in the editing process.Christine Beuhler:
As an editor, you have to keep your eyes peeled for PAX. Some xpressions are so entrenched in ur language that you don't spot hem. A quick example that comes o mind is we wrote a comparison iece we titled it a head to ead comparison and using this AX editing code, we really l oked at that and changed it to a side by side comparison. It's e sentially saying the same t ing. But it's removing that c mbative element, because we're a l about peace and love and h rmony. Another thing to be a are of with PAX as an editor is geographic or cultural di ferences. Some things may be mo e acceptable than others in di ferent parts of the world. At OS, we are a distributed team, we have writers all over the wo ld. And I think that PAX hel s make me a better writer and a bit editor, because it com els me to be aware of these dif erences, which I think is a goo thing for everyone.Jeffrey A. McGuire:
Not using violent language is avoiding using war metaphors, sex metaphors, violent metaphors, sometimes even competitive or sports metaphors, when we can describe something in a different way. As a culture, the Anglo Saxon world, the English speaking world, uses a lot of violent metaphors, effectively violent language, quite unconsciously. I think even unknowingly, this puts violence on our minds, or perhaps makes us less sensitive to the violence in the world. And we decided quite early on at OSP. To try to avoid this.Christine Beuhler:
I would say I actually don't use PAX that uch in my role as an editor ust because I think I will the ther writers are very aware of his and tend not to use it. But here are infrequent occasions here like a more violent etaphor is used, like sometimes hings slip through the cracks. think that some violent etaphors can also be eographical or regional. ecause we have a distributed eam. Sometimes we are pointing ut violent language that other eople in other parts of the orld don't recognize. That's ne place where having a remote istributed team is really an dvantage.Carl Richards:
When writing, there are many different ways you can approach this code.Christine Beuhler:
As a writer, it's important to understand that figurative language and metaphor is really useful, you're adding color to your writing, we certainly endorse that, that OSP, however, PAX is about being discerning when you're choosing those metaphors. I think as a writer, it's important not to think about PAX, if you're in the flow, don't interrupt your flow. And if you want to paint a word picture, let it all come out. And then come back on your your second read through as a writer to just look for any any word choices that you think could be improved or find a more positive example, if you can't find an alternative, flag it for your editor, you no help, I can't think of anything better. And get your editor to do the work for you, I think as a writer for PAX is be discerning, but don't let it interrupt your flow, come back to it or let someone else do it.Jeffrey A. McGuire:
So when I am writing a piece, when I am editing a piece, when I'm having a conversation with someone, I would rather talk about being at the coalface than being in the trenches or on the frontlines of something I like to talk about things that one finds in the wild or in the field, I'd like to talk about planting seeds and reaping the benefits and reaping harvesting things fruiting and growing and so on, I really strongly feel that using growth and and peaceful ways to describe things has an effect on our on our day and our mood. And I want to say that just staying away from sports and competition metaphors. On the one hand, if we talk about head to head and toe to toe, and then you know like boxing kind of stuff, it's really aggressive, right? And we can talk about side by side comparisons, for example, or go another route with that stuff. Frankly, with sports metaphors. There's an interesting side danger that goes along with having an international audience and that international audience doesn't know baseball or doesn't know cricket or doesn't know rugby, or doesn't know sumo or doesn't know where whatever it is that you love where you come from. We try in many ways, including this way to be as inclusive as possible by using language that hopefully everybody understands or that You know, the vast majority of people who might read everything, avoiding sex metaphors and dirty jokes, and whatever it is simply an issue of respect and professionalism. And that sort of stuff has absolutely no place in anything that OSP comes near at any time. And I don't have to mention any of the difficult, problematic relationships that our societies in the world have to these issues. It's just off the table here. There's no point we don't need to. SoChristine Beuhler:
I actually really love the PAX code, and I use it a lot. As a writer. I just love it because I think it's very thoughtful. And I think it really makes you reflect on how you use language PAX is a really good concrete representation of our open source Ito's at OSP. We are always aiming to encourage cooperation instead of competition. I think the PAX ode fits in really well there.Carl Richards:
Why is this editing code important to readers? How do they benefit from it?Felicity Brand:
As a reader? PAX is important. Metaphors ake content fun to read. They an help explain complex oncepts. We choose to use ositive metaphors, avoiding iolent language. Because that's art of the ethos at OSP. We elieve that positive messages ood. We want to kind of embed a ubconscious pick me up. I think t's important to note that it's ot every organization is going o choose PAX. I mean, for some p ople, this idea of avoiding v olent language is important l ke it is for us, for others m ybe not so important. It's not a hard and fast rule. And I t ink there is room for gray a ea. I think as an editor, if y u call out language that you t ink may be violent, the writer s ould have input and you know, i's a conversation, the writer s ould get to say, well, this is r ght for my client. This fits w th the voice and tone of the b and I'm writing for, we b lieve at OSP, that it's worth w rking harder to find a p sitive message because we want t be the change we want to see i the world Be the change you w nt to see in the world.Jeffrey A. McGuire:
As a consumer of content. I watch for this because this is one of those things that I've thought about for a long time. I think sports metaphors are pretty much fine in a sports article. And I guess if I am reading something historical that talks about a battle or talks about a conflict or talks about an actual war, that's an appropriate spot to use that sort of thing. But I don't want to use that language. When I'm trying to convince someone to adopt an open source solution. I don't want to mix up violent language with highlighting the benefits of selecting a particular solution to a problem, or trying to convince someone to join a community and make a contribution. I don't think it has any place. And I think I'm left with more column with something with a more peaceful result. In my mind, if I read something where that's been avoided, I noticed now and it bothers me a little bit if I see that sort of stuff in a context where I wouldn't put it in PAX is really important to us. And I'd be very curious to hear from, from you, from our audience, what you think about this stuff. And to hear more examples, we have more examples. And there's all sorts of interesting ones like bite the bullet in English is not a war metaphor. It's just talking about how old medicine worked, you know, in the beginning days of surgery when when they didn't have anesthesia, lots to say. And I would also have fun, maybe creating a resource with people of other metaphors that we can choose. We've noticed carpentry, gardening, mining, farming, growing flowers, trees, there's lots of ways to go. So I'd love to know more. And I'd love to hear about this for everybodyChristine Beuhler:
for the PAX ode. As a reader, it may not lways be obvious that what ou're reading, we've pecifically aimed to use non iolent language. I think it's a eally good practice that should e more widely adopted. I mean, can't speak for other parts of he world, but violent language nd metaphors about sports and ar are like they're very common n the US. And I'm sure that it as some sort of impact on how e think about and process hings in our world. I think the AX code for readers. It might e subtle, but I hope it makes eaders think more about the anguage they see and just the ind of content they're onsuming on a daily basis.Carl Richards:
Here are a few additional thoughts our teammates had about the PAX editing code.Christine Beuhler:
He's a subtle example of using the PAX editing I like the PAX code. Because once you become aware of it, of code. I was editing a colleague's written piece and they use the word foray. I called out for a, because it does have in its background, a military connotation. And I you know how often more violent metaphors are used, you just suggested alternatives, extend, explore, investigate, develop. kind of start seeing it everywhere. You know, like when And the writer said, thanks, I didn't even realize that this was a war word. I think this is a good example of one that sits someone points out a yellow car, and then you start seeing a in the gray area, for a is probably acceptable to a lot of readers. However, I was the editor, I called out PAX, and yellow car, everywhere. It's kind of the same thing. I think it's up to the reader to make that decision. we don't realize how surrounded we are by that kind of competitive or destructive language, you know, with the PAX code, once you start seeing that and being more aware of it, I think it can kind of open your eyes.Jeffrey A. McGuire:
Not that it comes up so often. But I would also strictly avoid religion in the sort of communication I do. I would save that for you know, if I had the chance to write a what I think about a given theology, for example, but religious metaphors, also avoiding them as a really easy way to avoid offending people.Carl Richards:
I hope we've successfully navigated our way around this topic. Does violent language standout for you? Perhaps you'll find yourself choosing a more neutral or positive option in your next piece of writing? Share your examples or questions with us via Twitter at open underscore strategy, or email Hello at open strategy partners.com. This was one of the editorial codes we use at OSP. If you'd like to learn more in the meantime, come on over to open strategy partners.com Have a look on our writer enablement workshops case study offering for get in touch to talk about your strategy or product communication needs. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this podcast, all the peas that OSP thanks to our clients who believe in us. Shout out to Patrick Golmaal for our high energy maple syrup, flavor theme music and to Mike snow for additional horn arrangements. Thank you for listening and subscribing. About our three themes on the podcast, you'll hear different members of the OSP team hosting episodes over time, communicate all things communication. We share how we tackle writing, editing, word choices, formats, processes, and more. Connect in depth conversations with interesting smart people about who they are, what they do, and how they approach their life and work as communicators, technologists and leaders grow. We cover approaches to understanding and expressing the value of what you do, including tools, templates, and practical applications. We also feel strongly about building a mindful positive human first culture at work that's bound to pop up from time to time to this podcast is us figuring out communication connection and growing together. Subscribe now on YouTube, Apple podcasts or the podcast channel of your choice. Follow us suggest guests and topics. Ask us questions on social media. We are at open underscore strategy on Twitter. Until next time, I'm Carl Richards and this is the OSP podcastChristine Beuhler:
and jam I'm still waiting for my Heinzelmnnchen t-shirt, please!