Summer is in full bloom right now and you will probably meet a ton of new people during your vacation. Something you need to be aware of when talking to strangers is that every word profoundly impacts people. This article is here to help you learn about the language that surrounds the condition called diabetes. There are some specifics when speaking with someone that has diabetes and we wanted to teach you some of them.
Why is it Important?
Good use of language (verbal/non-verbal/written) can build confidence in the interlocutor that stands just a step away from you. Many illnesses have a strong stigma around them and are not well represented in the media, social platforms, or TV. Just finding out that someone you know (or you don’t know yet) has diabetes feels very intimidating and confusing at first but if you use neutral words based on facts rather than assumptions – the conversation would be way more comfortable for both parties.
It is important to be respectful of the private life of somebody who just shared with you that they have a chronic condition. How we interact with people with diabetes greatly impacts the conceptualization of the illness and people’s overall well-being. For anyone with diabetes, the language around it is a sensitive topic that reflects on their motivation, behaviors, and even medical outcome.
Key Tips to Implement into your Language
Diabetes is a complex and challenging disease involving many factors and variables. It is completely normal to feel that you don’t get it all. Follow these recommendations during a conversation with people who have diabetes:
- Listen before you speak – be aware of the words your interlocutor says so you could use them in forming your thoughts.
- Do not put labels – you might have assumptions about the condition because of the stigma that surrounds it but better keep it unspoken.
- Focus on the person, not the diagnosis – acknowledge that a person has the diagnosis and redirect your interest into their personal experience.
- No judging needed – avoid any language that implies blame, shame, scare, or oversimplification of the condition.
- Act with respect – if an individual with diabetes feels listened to and cared for, they will be more comfortable talking to you.
- Acknowledge your differences – apart from the fact that you might not have the condition, know that your language influences one’s mental health.
- Focus on the positive – encourage people with diabetes about their continuous effort, to be honest about the condition, and enforce positive language around it.
- Language equals reality – putting into words your worries and intentions might mean not acknowledging the active work someone with diabetes is doing right now to better their overall health.
The Right Way of Speaking and Writing about Diabetes
Let’s put into practice all the tips you just learned. Here are some examples of what words and phrases from a conversation about diabetes could look like:
|Problematic (to avoid)||Preferred (to use)|
|Diabetic||Person with diabetes|
|Nondiabetic, Normal||Person who does not have diabetes|
Person without diabetes
|Lifestyle disease||Chronic condition|
|Bad/Poor control||Blood glucose levels/targets; glycemic target/goal; glycemic stability/variability; time in range or within a target range|
|Can/can’t, should/shouldn’t, do/don’t, have to, need to, must/must not||“Have you tried…”|
“May I make a suggestion…”
“May I tell you what has worked for other
“What is your plan for…”
“Would you like to consider…”
|Prevent, prevention||Reduce risk(s)/risk reduction|
|Victim, suffer, stricken, afflicted||…lives with diabetes|
…diagnosed with diabetes
|Unmotivated, unwilling||Concerned about|
|Cheating, sneaking||Making choices/decisions|
Be the positive change!
As more people start using these words and phrases to talk/write about any topic about diabetes, they will have a more positive perception of the chronic condition. Describing the accuracy of a situation in a gentle and non-judgmental way has to be a reminder for everybody that lives everyday life with diabetes that their effort is valid. So be the positive change and speak empathetic, encouraging, understanding, and respectful to influence the people around you.
Speaking the Language of Diabetes
Language and diabetes PDF
A new language for diabetes PDF
The Experience of Diabetes-Related Language in Diabetes Care
Diabetes Language Recommendations: How To Avoid Judgment and Stigma
Language Matters Diabetes