It’s all in the wording

Be Careful…

What does “Careful!!” actually mean? To a Guide it may mean, the rocks are slippery, the edge is crumbling, a rock is tumbling down the hill… In your mind it all makes sense, but what are your clients thinking?

Very often I hear Guides shouting a warning, or telling their clients…


When in fact a slight change in wording will be more beneficial… and understandable.

  • Careful here… could rather be said as “Listen to the rocks rolling under the water, orLook how fast the water is flowing“.
  • Careful here… rather say, “Move your feet quickly over the boulder bed of rocks rather than trying to balance on each rock. The momentum will keep you balanced.
  • Careful here… could be replaced by, “Look at this poisonous plant. Can you see any of the other group members getting too close?
  • Careful here… could mean, “These rocks are slippery.
  • Careful here… it’s better to say, “Try using your hands to balance.
  • Careful of the stove… better said as, “Can you feel the heat coming off the stove? It’s very hot.
  • Careful… “Whats your plan if you cross over that log across the river?
  • Careful… “How will you get down?

What makes sense to you, may be totally misunderstood by your clients. Speak in a way that is understandable to all and cannot be misunderstood.

Andrew Friedemann

Author: Andrew Friedemann

Andrew holds qualifications in South Africa, Australia and the UK as an Outdoor Recreation Instructor and qualified Mountain Guide and Instructor. Passionate about developing the Adventure Industry in South Africa to make it safer and provide opportunities to a younger generation of adventurers. Represented South Africa on the World Mountaineering Federations (UIAA) International Training Standards Commission for 10 years and has administered the South African Mountaineering Development & Training Trust. A qualified Wilderness EMT and Emergency Care Practitioner. Qualified as an Skills Development Practitioner, he has been intimately involved in the development of Adventure based qualifications particularly with regard the quality management of adventure qualifications. Founder of Adventure Qualifications Network, he was instrumental in the development of National Vocational qualifications for the adventure industry in South Africa, but also worked closely with Australia where he attained the Cert IV in Outdoor Recreation Instruction. Currently resident in the Scottish Highlands - UK, with his wife, Michelle, they travel to many areas of the world gaining information and skills. A keen adventurer, Andrew has participated in mountaineering, skydiving and scuba diving among other activities.

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