Avoiding Useless Business Jargon in Communication

January 30, 2012

Does your organization throw around a lot of silly jargon like “team effort”, “touching base”, or “vertical shift” to describe various business activities? If so, then you are one of thousands of companies that add these colorful, yet clique phrases to language in an attempt to make things seem bigger than they really are. In essence, jargons are used to get people excited about things, or to set the tone of communications, but very often they only serve to annoy people. In fact, jargons can create confusion in speech that skews any real meaning.

A recent Forbes article not only gave readers the ability to “vote” for the worst corporate jargon ever, but it illustrated some great points about the miss-use of these phrases in everyday speech. The first point is that business jargon leads to misunderstanding among colleagues. Terms like “corporate values” and “giving 100%” often allude to goals that may seem unclear or undefined. While most employees “give it their all”, the perception of what “all” is can vary from one person to the next.

Jargon also sounds meaningless and even cheesy to clients and those outside of the corporate environment. Think about the last time you said “making hay”, “brain storm” or “bleeding edge” to someone not on your work team. It probably didn’t ring a bell with anyone and you ended up getting odd looks from listeners. Corporate jargon can be so silly that it makes no sense to the outside world.

Let’s get down to how to avoid this useless waste of words in business communications. First off, if you hear someone use a corporate jargon at work, never assume you know what the other person is saying. Ask for clarification in plain English. Jargon comes from the habit of people developing slang terms for everything from company products to company behaviors. Don’t be a follower and pick this slang terminology up. Be a leader and use proper language in all your communications.

Acronyms can also be a trap into the use of jargon at the office. Many times complex titles turn into simple letters that happen to spell out pronounceable words. Take the time to memorize the actual names of things and state them in their full form, or read out the letters themselves not the jargon. Again, it’s not about fitting in as much as it is about speaking with clarify and professionalism.

To avoid jargons and their odd meanings, be sure to brush up on your communication skills by taking classes on business communication and leadership from Dale Carnegie. Try checking out the Dale Carnegie white paper on Understanding and Engaging IT Professionals offered as a FREE download simply for signing up online.

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