Ok – so maybe “A$$” is a little strong. Seriously though, if you don’t care that people roll their eyes when you talk, you can ignore this article.
For the rest of you, welcome to the first article in the Mean What You Say series. I’ll focus on the why and what of intentional business language.
Before we start, let’s set the record straight.
- I love a good analogy.
- I use them all.the.time.
As a trainer, analogies are a tool I use to help a person gain clarity on a topic. Like any superpower though, they have to be used effectively. Unfortunately, the slope from analogy to jargon is a slippery one and there are a lot of business bodies at the bottom of that hill (see what I did there?).
To get the discussion rolling, let’s explore the difference between an analogy and jargon.
Analogy vs Jargon
Most of us remember the term “analogy” from fifth grade English. (Is it an analogy, a simile, or a metaphor? you decide…) If you want a refresher, Brian Clark wrote a great article about the three on his website, copyblogger.
I like the basic Google definition for “analogy” the best:
a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.”an analogy between the workings of nature and those of human societies”
a correspondence or partial similarity.”the syndrome is called deep dysgraphia because of its analogy to deep dyslexia”
a thing that is comparable to something else in significant respects.”works of art were seen as an analogy for works of nature”
When you are making an analogy you are using words and phrases that are familiar to the person you are connecting with. You are leveraging the known to illustrate the unknown.
For an analogy to be effective, you must have a connection with the other person. You need to know where they are so you can use the analogy to guide them to a new awareness.
Jargon is different. Dictionary.com lists “jargon” as:
the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group: medical jargon.
unintelligible or meaningless talk or writing; gibberish.
any talk or writing that one does not understand.
language that is characterized by uncommon or pretentious vocabulary and convoluted syntax and is often vague in meaning.
Jargon is using words to indicate a “specialized” area of knowledge. It is about what you know, not about what the other person understands.
Jargon has nothing to do with helping the recipient understand your message. Jargon is really all about you sounding special.
|Analogies help people understand||and||Jargon makes you sound self-important|
Now that we’ve covered that, over the next few weeks we will take a look at a few phrases that might be off-putting to people around you…
stay tuned for more on the topic – next up: a look at “Deep Dive”