Risk Leadership: Do you use the “r” word?

It started more than a decade ago, however, I am now hearing it much more often. “I don’t even use the word “risk” when I am talking to them”. Meaning, the people have such negative perceptions of the word “risk” and the phrase “risk management” that it is better not to use them.

I have long advocated to stop confusing people with risk jargon (e.g. see this 2010 blog titled “Garnering Organisational Commitment – Becoming a Trusted Adviser”: My favourite phrase I probably don’t use enough is “From Risk Speak to C-Suite Speak” (see this webinar:

Having said that, most people do understand what a risk is. Something that needs to be taken into account, more or less depending on your perception of the risk or on how much you like taking on the particular kind of risk. Some people won’t go into the water because they are scared of sharks, however, they would happily jump out of an airplane with nothing but a parachute.

So I find myself speaking a lot about uncertainty and decision making, appetite for business, issues and the like. However, I find once I get through to people what I am talking about – helping to ensure their success by helping them to manage uncertainty with the best known tool to humankind; they seem quite comfortable to sit down and talk about risks.

I am interested to know your thoughts. Do you avoid the “r” word at all costs or just sometimes? Or do you prefer to call a spade a spade (a risk a risk and risk management, risk management)?