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How to help clients by avoiding jargon

By April 1, 2014Marketing
Avoid Jargon

What is jargon?

“The language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group” – Dictionary.com

So basically jargon are the words nobody else is going to understand. A great example is law enforcement and all the acronyms they use. Like when one police agency puts out an APB on a B&E at 4th and main and they are UTL on the perp.

I’m not even sure if I used all those correctly but I’m sure someone in law enforcement could somewhat decipher what I wrote. It’s pretty much meaningless to use jargon with people that are unfamiliar with it. It can make them feel stupid and be very off-putting. You may have experienced people using jargon to make themselves look smarter and feel more important. Not great when you are trying to build a relationship with a client.

Now I’m not trying to say to NEVER use jargon and it isn’t solely used to make yourself feel cool. There is a real reason to use it in your industry. The words and phrases have meaning and are a quicker way of communicating ideas. Your invoices aren’t cluttered with tons of words. Jargon is essentially more effective when everyone knows what it means.

However if you want to build rapport and help out your clients, you are best to do two things:

  1. Avoid jargon
  2. Educate on what jargon means

Practice describing in simple terms what jargon means. If you can’t take jargon and explain in in simple terms you are going to have a hard time when clients have questions. The more you simplify jargon to everyday vocabulary the more you can talk like a normal person with your clients. They will love you for it.

Over use of jargon and telling people complicated definitions is a great way to lose trust. It’s almost like you are talking in a code language because you are trying to hide something. Mechanics often get a bad rep for using jargon with uneducated people and jacking up their prices. When your mechanic tells you he rotated your flux capacitor and drained your blinker fluid you should probably find a new mechanic. How much more confident are you in someone when they are able to tell you exactly what they are charging you for in terms you can understand?

You may find if you use jargon clients will just nod their heads and act like they understand so they don’t feel silly. Some clients will ask what things mean, but many won’t. Others will THINK they know what jargon means and that can also be a dangerous scenario.

If you can avoid the jargon and explain it in simple terms now it’s really easy to educate them on the terms. Give your simple definition and then say “we call that ______.” Now the client is in on the jargon and you can use it with them. Pretty simple and you now have a client that will probably have less questions and feel more comfortable asking you questions when they do come up.


Here’s a humorous take on defending the use of jargon. http://bloomgroup.com/blogs/tim-parker/defense-jargon