Jargon Kills Trust

Anyone who has taken a business communication seminar or course has heard about the perils of business jargon. Usually, jargon is panned because it’s confusing, particularly for audiences who don’t understand the jargon, or — much worse — think they understand it, but don’t really.

These are great reasons to avoid the use of jargon in business, but I think there’s an even better reason to jettison jargon: It kills trust.

Jargon builds walls. When leaders use jargon — whether they’re aligning or optimizing, gaining mindshare, utilizing* their bandwidth, driving innovation or (gasp) opening their kimonos** — they become slightly less human in the eyes of listeners or readers.

The best communicators show empathy and are not afraid to be vulnerable; they tell stories that illustrate their points and make a real effort to connect with their audiences. Jargon makes this impossible.

Most people don’t communicate with jargon-laden business speak in their regular lives, so when they do it at work they are implicitly telling their audience that they have no interest in connecting with them on a deeper level.

Download our postable Off-Limits Jargon tool.

That might be ok if you’re a research scientist communicating results of a study, but if you’re a leader who needs your employees to galvanize behind your vision so your company can succeed, this can be a killer.

How can your employees trust you if they don’t know you? How can they trust you about the announcement you’re making or the sacrifices you’re requesting if you can’t even respect them enough to talk to them like real people?

So, if you want your team to trust you and follow you to success, cut it out with jargon (i.e., right size your jargon use and optimize your verbiage) and speak like a human.

Your team (and your family, which is probably tired of hearing you use the term “agile innovation model” at the dinner table) will thank you for it.

* Utilize = Use

** This is gross. Please stop saying this.

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