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Does business jargon have a place?

It doesn’t seem to matter what industry you work in, jargon has become a part of everyday communication.  This is not always a bad thing.

Benefits of jargon

Jargon has a place and can shortcut understanding.  Using jargon demonstrates an affinity with the industry and lends credibility to what is being said.  It can also be useful as a short cut on industry issues, points and procedures.  But, this only works provided everyone has the same understanding of the jargon being used.

When using jargon, speakers or writers make large assumptions about their audience.  They assume that everyone has the same understanding of the terms used as they do.  They assume that everyone has the same background knowledge and context in which to place the jargon, and they assume that their audience has the time and patience to persevere and work their way through the jargon to uncover the deeper meaning.

Writing in jargon is not unlike writing in code or text-speak.  For those who use it everyday it becomes second nature, but for everyone else it is a laborious and frustrating way of getting to the real message.

Jargon as a crutch

There are many people who use jargon correctly and with full understanding, but there are also a great number who use jargon to cover up a lack of understanding.  For this reason, if nothing else, we would argue that jargon should always be challenged.

Challenging the use of jargon not only ensures that the full and intended meaning is delivered but it also ensures that all present are working from the same starting point.  This is a key element to good communication.

Problems with jargon

Using jargon automatically reduces the audience that will engage with and understand your message.  You are confining your message to those who have the same knowledge as you and, as such, you are closing the door to a wider audience.  If communication is worth undertaking then it is worth doing in such a way that it enables maximum engagement.  Otherwise, why bother?

Jargon filled communication can also appear pompous and overly corporate.  It alienates the reader and is likely to illicit the response, “Why should I bother reading this?  It isn’t designed for me.  They clearly don’t care what I think.”

Why we should be replacing jargon with plain English

The solution to jargon filled communication is simple.  Replace your jargon with plain English.  Make sure that everyone can understand what you are saying, even if this means taking a little bit longer to explain essential terms or phrases.  The rewards you will reap from this far outweigh any extra effort taken to clarify your message.

Plain English leaves no room for confusion.  It cuts out the chance of misinterpretation and brings your entire audience together on a level playing field right from the start.  With people understanding your message you are in a far stronger position to get the results you are looking for.

If that’s not enough to convince you…

We are often presented with the argument that jargon is ‘ok’ in a company name because it automatically makes you part of the industry.  Possibly true, but does it set you apart?  Isn’t the point of any business to stand out from the competition?  To have something unique and different that will bring customers knocking?

Using jargon in your company name automatically makes you just like everyone else.  Company identities need to grow and evolve along with the company itself.  Using jargon in your name not only limits your options for the future but it also creates reaction in your target market based on their previous experience with your sector.  Before you have even had the opportunity to showcase your ethos and values, a decision has been made against you.

The last word

Jargon has a place and it can be useful, but only in very limited situations.  Plain English, on the other hand, is suitable for every situation.  If you are interested in making yourself understood use plain English.  We think it really is that simple.  What do you think?

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