Workplace or internal jargon is both helpful and problematic in communications. On one hand, it serves as an efficient way of communicating within a specific community. Especially when members of that community are “jargon-fluent”.
However, using jargon often causes confusion when used to communicate with those outside of that group. For example, a doctor may mention “abrasion”, while you as a non-professional might not realise it’s just a “cut”.
This pattern was especially prevalent during the COVID-19 crisis. Where new jargon quickly emerged and added to the language barrier between organizations and their customers.
How Jargon Hinders Customer Trust and Experience
Over time people do learn the jargon, especially with something as pervasive as COVID-19, but mostly it just causes friction & mistrust, especially when it concerns occasional comms. For example, an insurance policy or a pension fund update.
In general, when used across different communities, jargon creates barriers to understanding. It alienates people. It forces customers to seek clarification from the organization. This negatively impacts the customer experience and erodes trust. It’s important for organizations to avoid using insider jargon when communicating outside of the group.
And if jargon is required, possibly for legal reasons, then the organization must provide clear explanations of every term.
From Workplace to Casual Conversations
A special type of jargon is corporate-speak which increasingly seeps into casual conversations. VisibleThread’s founder and CEO Fergal McGovern recently featured in an article for the Irish newspaper Independent.ie. The author talks about how people now use words like “reaching out,” “bandwidth,” and “optimizing” increasingly in casual settings.
Jargon has also infiltrated job titles, which are becoming increasingly convoluted. The corporate world just loves to throw in unnecessary descriptors.
The use of workplace jargon and corporate-speak has become a common trend in our daily lives and has jumped out of the corporate world. This terminology can be efficient when professionals in the same field communicate. But causes problems when communicating with those not familiar with the terms used. The use of jargon can erode trust and create barriers to understanding.
So, it is essential for organizations to avoid it, or if required, then provide clear explanations. The constant evolution of jargon and its impact on language is very natural. But remember, while it might make sense to those “inside the tent”, those outside may just be scratching their head.
It may not be effective when communicating with those who are “not on the same page”. It is time to rethink the use of jargon and corporate-speak. And choose clarity and understanding over technical terms and buzzwords.