According to this box, ingredients in Honey Bunches of Oats “add a trivial amount of saturated fat and cholesterol.”
That sounds entirely too vague to be FDA-approved, but was a good reminder of how even the simplest message can be interpreted in different ways. What’s ‘trivial’ to one person could be life-threatening to another. And while it seems like a basic snippet of information, I can only imagine the countless emails, debates and legal reviews that were behind the approval of this wording.
This is why I like working in communications. I know what it’s like to be misled or under-informed, and I enjoy working to keep others from ever feeling that way. It’s definitely not an exact science — nor is it easy — but I value being a connection between people, change and information.
There are times when it’s hard to communicate with someone else, even face-to-face in the same language. It gets exponentially trickier when more variables come into play, like different cultures or personality types. But I compare successful communication to international travel. It’s the equivalent of reaching an important understanding with someone in a foreign language (think exaggerated sign language and slow, loud speech). I think I’ve come close to tears of joy upon learning something as simple as where the bathroom is in a strange city.
I don’t always know the right way to say things, but it’s good to know I’m a step above cereal box ambiguity. It’s also good to know the delicious oat clusters I’ve enjoyed for years are not quite as healthy as I thought…