Unjargoning Your Workplace Communication

We all know someone who has mastered the art of speaking in business jargon. Someone’s face just popped into your mind. Often, this jargon-driven communication style is used to cover up a lack of confidence or knowledge. Big words sound smart, right, so using big words will make me intelligent and sophisticated… or will it? Let’s test out this theory.

Here’s an example that is jargon overloaded:

“We need to synergize our cross-functional teams through a holistic approach to optimize our core competencies and enhance our value proposition in order to achieve a paradigm shift in our market positioning.”

Say what?

Here’s a simplified alternative:

“We should work together across teams to improve what we’re really good at and strengthen our story so we can stand out in the market.”

Another example of jargon overuse:

“We must engage in proactive ideation sessions to catalyze innovative solutions, leveraging our deep-dive data analysis and harnessing cutting-edge technology to disrupt the market and stay ahead of the curve.”

Huh? Can you explain that?

Yep. Here it is in the kind of language humans use:

“Let’s brainstorm some new ideas, using data to make decisions and the latest technology to stay competitive.”

One last jargon-y example:

“We need to strategize a holistic, customer-centric approach, incorporating omni-channel marketing, data-driven personalization, and agile project management to drive synergistic growth and capture a larger market share.”

It’s going to take me five minutes to unravel that.

Simplified, here’s the message:

“We should create a strategy that focuses on customers, uses different marketing channels, and is personalized based on user data to help us grow.”

The point here is simple. Trying to sound overly sophisticated creates gaps between the message you want to deliver and the people you’re trying to deliver it to. Simply put, they have no idea what you’re saying. Want to know why they don’t engage? They’re confused.

This isn’t to say we should “dumb-down” how we talk to people. On the contrary, you have to be pretty smart to distill down your message and deliver it in a way everyone can understand. When you do that, you’ll win all day.


Ask for what you want, and tell the stories you want to share, using words people understand. K.I.S.S.

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