Playing Jargon Scrabble kills puppies.

Hi, my name is Geoff, and I’m sad. I’m sad because I heard the term “authentic communication” the other day. Hearing such a term makes me sad for two reasons.

1) “Authentic communication” = “not talking with your brains hanging out your nose like a booger so nobody can understand you”.

2) Based on all the evidence, “authentic communication” is a necessary evil.

Let’s take a real world example of something I actually heard come out of someone’s mouth recently: “business lifecycle is really a way for us to execute our portfolio strategy”. What…no seriously what…does that actually mean? I wasn’t speaking directly to the man so I didn’t have the opportunity to ask that question.

Jargon Scrabble

I hate this game.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know about anybody else, but if I don’t understand what you’re saying, I’m going to ask you to explain. I would say 8 times out of 10, no matter what someone says to me can be reduced down to a small handful of 4 and 5 letter words.

It makes me mental because no matter how many times I have to say the words “speak to me like I’m your 8 year old”, I keep getting jargon thrown at me. And this jargon…if you add up the number of minutes each day we spend getting people to translate themselves, and stick those minutes on the end of a workday, I seriously bet there would be enough time to complete ONE WHOLE JOB of something.

How is this so hard, people? When we’re 8 years old, we don’t complicate things so badly that we can’t communicate with one another. Somewhere between the time we’re 8 and the time we enter the workforce something bad happens to us. Here are my theories:

  • we’re afraid of what other people will think if we don’t use big words
  • we’re bluffing, pretending we know what other people are saying when we really don’t
  • we’re talking just to make sounds
  • we want to show off
  • we’re (*shudder*) “filibustering”
The correct way to play Jargon Scrabble

Here's how to play Jargon Scrabble so you don't get pushed down an elevator shaft.

Look. I don’t know how to make this any more clear: “STOP IT”. If you aren’t getting your message across the first time you say it, that’s YOUR shortcoming, not your listener’s. If your listener has to get you to simplify your language more than once, you’re entering time-wasting territory.

To help you shove your brains back up inside your head, I’ve presented a primer for acceptable words to use during communications, which you can see above. Please use them, and do your very best to keep using them. Then maybe I won’t have to be sad anymore.

PS: As per usual, when I rant about “you” I’m not referring to the reader of this article.

I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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