Key concepts of radioactive waste management, such as safety, risk, reversibility and retrievability, carry different meanings for the technical community and for non-technical stakeholders. Similarly, socio-economic concepts, including community, landscape and benefit packages, are interpreted differently by diverse societal groups. Opinions and attitudes are not simply a faithful reflection of decision making, actual events and communicated messages; perceptions and interpretations of events and objects also play a role. This report presents key issues and examples in order to build awareness of the importance of symbols and symbolism in communicating about perceptions and interpretations. It adds to the recognition that dialogue amongst stakeholders is shaped by dimensions of meaning that reach beyond dictionary definitions and are grounded in tradition and social conventions. A better understanding of these less obvious or conspicuous realities should help find additional ways of creating constructive relationships amongst stakeholders.