Cutting through the jargon

There is a lot of jargon out there. Technology, by itself, is another language, full of the complexities of any culture. It has its own nuances, postures, protocols and fashions. Couple the jargon of technology with the cultures of sales and marketing and what we get is an utter flurry of buzzwords and motivational phrases, much of it used without any real understanding of what it actually means. People who have true fluency in one or more of these worlds have a hard time finding any real meaning. It can be a lonely place, searching for others who understand the hidden machinery behind what is being said.

We seem to take communication for granted, as if it is a very simple task to understand each other day-to-day, much less in the context of sharing big, complex ideas. Truth is, effective communication is an art form. It is only done with intention and thoughtfulness. We should be grateful for our most powerful asset, humbled and reassured, time and time again, that we have imagination and the ability to make ourselves understood.

We all have our own strategies for attempting to transmit complex concepts to broad audiences of all ability levels. In me, it comes off much of the time as silliness. That’s the way I process information and turn it into my own ideas. It helps in making things simpler, reducing the complex to friendly terms that I can understand. That my friends and family can understand.

the definition of jargonJargon itself can be silly by virtue of the fact that it actually says nothing, nothing that makes sense, anyway. For example, the most gifted mentors I have had have one thing in common: they avoid jargon altogether. Speaking clearly and simply demonstrates that we understand the concept being discussed. I have been trained to ask myself this question over and over: Can I describe it in simple terms that everyone can understand? If not, I may not understand it as well as I think I do and may need to do more research.

Are you dealing with someone who uses too much jargon? Try translating back to them what you think they said and see if you understood. Ask them to kindly speak in simple terms or, failing that, ask them if there are any good analogies, metaphors that make a complicated thing simpler. Ask them to try. It is up to each of us to break through the calcification jargon often imposes on communication. Otherwise, we are doomed to continue being frustrated in a thicket of obfuscation of our own making.