Workplace jargon

Jargon refers to terms, expressions, or acronyms specific to a particular industry or professional group.

People enjoy complaining about jargon, saying it is hard to understand, pretentious, and unnecessary. Many industries and government leaders criticize it, but jargon continues to thrive in most professions despite these complaints.

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Does Your Office Have a Jargon Problem?

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Jargon fulfils a number of fundamental needs.

  • It produces efficient and precise communication in some contexts.
  • It encourages social bonding by reinforcing a shared identity.
  • Jargon can also be used consciously or unconsciously to signal membership in a professional community.
  • It is used out of the desire for status in one's profession or because of insecurity.

Jargon is used in place of more easily understood, less professional alternatives.

  • Jargon can make communication more difficult for outsiders and cause them to disengage.
  • Jargon can make people feel excluded.
  • It can sound meaningless.
  • It can hurt the impressions of a speaker. Audiences may view these speakers as manipulative or less likeable.
  • Identify when jargon is proper. When credibility is important, jargon may be useful. When understanding and engagement of a varied audience are necessary, excessive jargon can be costly.
  • Ask yourself if you can communicate the same idea in a simpler way.
  • If you want to reduce excessive jargon use in your company, start from the top.
  • Letting others know why you want to refrain from excessive jargon sends a message that you're confident in your abilities and more interested in being understood.

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