Stop drawing comparisons to the nazis

Tune in to any radio or podcast show and you are likely to hear reference after reference to hitler and the nazis (yes, lowercase – because these were not proper people).  In most cases, these references are weaker than your 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon connection.  So why do people do it? For shock value, to grab headlines and beat the arguments into submission.  Or so they think.

The nazis performed horrific, unspeakable acts that wiped out millions of people in the most violent ways.  I think this is something that modern-day people often forget.  Because you were Polish or Jewish, you were annihilated, stabbed in the heart with a bayonet, shot in the back, and forced to breathe gas until you died.  Your children were treated the same.

That’s a far cry from a teacher asking students to follow the rules of the classroom or the President asking people to pursue a legal process or someone saying they don’t practice a particular religion.  See the difference – asking versus stabbing and annihilation.

What’s nazis have to do with risk

That’s a good question. All this business about hitler and drawing comparisons is about the examples you use in risk management when training, writing policies and discussing safety matters with your staff.  When you draw connections between two things that have no connection, your example then looks exaggerated, out-of-touch, and lacking in credibility.  All the things that you don’t want.

People you support, teach, train, and work with are smart.  They know when you are blowing smoke and when you have been in the trenches with them.  When you have done the work, gotten your hands dirty, and are reasonable in judgments.  Trying to use fear, shock, and scare tactics doesn’t work.

Be careful your language

What can you do?  Use reasonable examples. Things that connect and tell a story.  Things that get buy-in from the people you support, teach, and train.  Go for the middle of the spectrum, not the extremes, and you will see your risk management and safety program improve by leaps and bounds.


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