Have an idea? Lose the Jargon

by | May 5, 2022 | Change, Ideas |


Two conversations about jargon this week. One about communicating ideas, the other about communication within a sector.

Jargon itself isn’t bad or even negative. It is short hand and we all use it. All groups have elements of it within them – it’s part of what creates and maintains groups. Jargon is part of culture – organisational culture, societal culture, ethnic culture.

However, jargon can be devisive and exclusionary. It keeps people out. The humanitarian sector is full of jargon, code words and phrases. If you join any one of the gazillion meetings about the efforts in the Ukraine response, you’ll hear jargon. The thing is, if you are an insider, you often don’t ‘hear’ it. But if you are new to the aid world, it can feel like a foreign language. And you either quickly pick it up or you leave.

Communicating ideas can also be full of it. However, good communicators lose the jargon and use the language of the person(s) she is talking with. And stories…’my idea is a bit like…’

Too often we expect the newbie or the person we are talking with to learn our jargon, our stories, our culture. Perhaps it’s time to learn their language.

How do you know if you are speaking jargon? Try your speech on a 10 year old – they’ll tell you if you are making sense or speaking gibberish.

Who’s language do you need to learn today?

Photo by Mika Baumeister


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