Jargon has a bad reputation. That is because too many people use it in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons, and with the wrong people. Here’s a quick way to figure out if you can use it in a particular situation.
1. Know your audience- Are they likely to know what you are talking about? Do they share your understanding of the subtleties of the terminology? If not, speak plainly.
2. Know why you are using it. Are you trying to impress them or intimidate them because you are feeling uncertain or worried about yourself? Use it for the right reasons.
3. Know how to use it correctly. Do you know the jargon in your field or industry? Are you staying up to date? When you encounter a new term, don’t assume you understand what it means. Be sure before using it.
Used appropriately with the right audience, jargon is a shorthand that can help you further the discussion or debate. When misused, jargon will make you look bad and/or make others feel bad. You will be much more effective if you aren’t creating artificial barriers to collaboration.
So when in doubt, there is one simple rule for jargon: learn it and avoid using it.
!Nerd alert! Don’t be a barbarian. (The term “Barbarian” comes from the Greeks and Romans coined the term based on how they thought foreigners sounded “Bar Bar Bar Bar”- a nonsense sort of like “Blah,Blah,Blah” in English.