Do you know what can really embarrass a customer? Or make him feel stupid? Or just fail to help him understand? (And I am referring to an internal as well as an external customer.)

Jargon will cause all of these to happen. And you certainly don’t want that if you want customers to use your product or service, keep coming back and recommend your business to other people. The same goes for keeping your staff and colleagues happy.

When you use technical terms, buzz words or acronyms, the other person may not understand. He may also feel you are talking down to him; this makes him feel patronised and uncomfortable. Any form of jargon is best avoided.

Every organisation has its jargon, and yet when I ask people in a seminar to give me examples of jargon in their business, they really struggle to come up with something. And the reason for that is — they don’t know they are using jargon.

Here are some examples of workplace jargon:

•  Land and expand

•  Blue-sky thinking

•  Think outside the box

•  The helicopter view

•  Get our ducks in a row

•  Drink our own champagne

•  End-user perspective

•  Pushing the envelope

•  Moving forward

•  Boil the ocean

•  Heavy lifting

•  Face time

•  Hammer it out

•  Cubicle farm

•  Pick the low-hanging fruit

And this list doesn’t even include the acronyms that are often used.

I do a lot of work with a large telecommunications company. Every time we have a coffee break, the participants get together and talk about work stuff. I have listened in on these conversations and I haven’t a clue what they are talking about. They will say things like: “We need to do an AB1 to get a 465, and then we’ll do wop-pow to pull the DD12 through.”

Okay, so it is not exactly like that, but it sounds a lot like that to me. I just hope they never talk to their customers in this way.

Am I stupid or something?

I was in the bank the other day depositing a cheque from a client. The woman behind the counter took the cheque and the pay-in slip and said something to me I didn’t understand.

I said: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you said.” She repeated herself five times before I got it. What she was saying was, “This will be late for clearing.”

Now I know you are reading this and thinking it makes perfect sense to you.

But this woman was soft-spoken and not very distinct. And because I didn’t understand the jargon, I had to ask her to repeat herself five times.

She kept saying the same thing, and did not seem able to translate it into everyday language. She could have said something like, “This amount won’t be available to withdraw from your account until Monday.” Or, “It will be three days before this money will be available to you.” Or something like that.

Repeating the same thing over and over again was not helpful or good for customer service. It was slightly embarrassing for me and made me feel a bit more stupid than I really am.

Remember, every business and every industry has its own jargon, so you will need to know not just general slang but also the industry-specific jargon in your organisation.

Make sure when communicating with other people that you dump the jargon and think “KISS” — Keep It Short and Simple.


Article by Alan Fairweather, “The Motivation Doctor”. He is an international business speaker, successful author and sales growth expert. For the past 19 years, he has developed the talents of business owners, managers, sales and customer service people, turning them into consistent top performers. For more information, visit Article source: