Sunday, June 14, 2009

To Jargon or Not: Do You Know When You Are?

The use of jargon ... emotional intelligence rides on SELF-AWARENESS. So the first point on this topic is -- do you know what jargon is, and when you are using it? From there, we go to: Do you know WHEN and WHY to use it.

This article I quote from thinks the topic is particularly relevant to written English. I think it is just as much so with spoken English. Words are words. "Jargon," to me, means the special words used within a certain field that include those in the field, and exclude those not in the field. When I was in marketing, I learned to say "two-sided, one up" when talking to the printer. The client would have no idea what I meant. In psychology, I learned to say "passive-aggressive personality." Those in the field know the parameters; the danger of that one is that people outside the field think they know what it means, and generally do not. But the same could be said for all jargon.

Another example of "jargon" is grammatical. In some fields, it is common to "verbalize" nouns. In others, it is not. In some fields, one must be grammatically correct. In others, it is gauche to care about how you write.

We proceed, with the addition that - the purpose of words is supposed to be to communicate. If what you say is not understood by the others, you have not communicated.

Here's a classic. Years ago the only thing PMS meant was the color charts people in marketing used when designing brochures, logos, etc. Since more people are color-blind than would like to admit, and since - well I just had lunch and that lime green shirt, sir, is NOT "teal." (and so it goes)

Well the acronym PMS has been pre-empted.

Some notes from "Are You on the Inside Or the Outside of Jargon?" by Jeanie Marshall, a colleague in personal development coaching:

Jargon is a powerful time saver, if you are inside the circle of people who know its meaning.

If you are outside that circle, though, the use of jargon can confuse, annoy, or exclude you.

The extent this is problematic to you will depend on how much you want to be in the inner circle.

Entering any new subculture requires getting acquainted with the vernacular.

Understanding acronyms, jargon, shortcuts, inside humor, and incomplete sentences are all part of getting acclimated to a subculture or inner circle.

It's a great article. Check it out and share your thoughts.

Marshall ends with an Einstein quote: "If you can't explain something simply, you don't know enough about it." It was given to us in clinical psychology graduate school (ah, the jargon) as: "If you can't explain it to your grandmother, you don't know what you're talking about."

No offense to grandmothers, I am one. But I think it gets the point across more clearly. The point is, when you are talking to someone clearly outside your "field," it behooves you to be able to switch your language accordingly. They'll like you a whole lot more, and people relax when they like and trust someone, and then they can hear and learn.

If you are not aware of how you speak, and how it is different from how others speak, or other ways of speaking, you will be lost. And that's what emotional intelligence is all about. Communication is just one of the many facets that will improve, when you learn the meta-field of emotional intelligence.


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