Decrease Jargon Increase Rapport

Brad G. Philbrick
3 min readDec 1, 2020

Jargon. Every profession has it, and everyone uses it. Legalese, medical terminology, Newspeak, construction mumbo jumbo, computerese, and financial lingo all possess unique terms and acronyms. Want even more?

Sports claim their abbreviations as accepted terms too; ERA, RBI, TD, FG, TKO, eagle, and the nineteenth hole. After a day of jargon, the nineteenth hole can be refreshing.

Then you relax with a hobby only to find a new set of jargon. Model railroaders use DCC, kitbashing, scratch built, and “rivet counter” as commonplace verbiage. A stamp collector asks if the stamp he needs for his collection is NH, unused, has torn perfs, and lightly canceled.

But jargon often becomes an issue of ineffective communication. Many use their profession’s parlance to impress others. Too often, it is the struggling colleague that throws out acronyms of his craft to bolster his need for self-importance. His work’s gobbledegook makes him feel influential and how knowledgeable that he presumes to be. Rattling off specialty words from his lexicon provides a certain level of reassurance and a source of comfort.

Unfortunately, what transpires is built up walls. Communicating in one’s unique balderdash to others not of your profession only alienates, befuddles, frustrates, and even angers others. Individuals do not like feeling as if they are merely statistics, objects, and made to feel stupid. What happens too, is that peers or even potential clients come back using your educationese as weapons against you.

The overuse of company chatter when selling to other businesses might seem rational. But no business truly sells to another business. Business people sell to other people. What’s worse, others will reveal your weakness and lack of expertise with the cunning use of your babble. No one wants to feel left out not knowing the language as if it is a right of passage or the club’s secret handshake.

Use buzz words sparingly, and if you do, explain the name or acronym in your message. If not, your cute, cunning cliches will become validated voluminous volatile venom.

Peter Baiardi, a businessman, declared, “I have received memos so swollen with managerial babble that they struck me as the literary equivalent of assault with a deadly weapon.”

The Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk teach us, “Write in a way that comes naturally. Prefer the standard to the offbeat.”

Limiting the amount of professional jargon, buzz-words, and cliches will go a long way into establishing or solidifying business relationships amongst your colleagues and your clients. Writing becomes a matter of respecting your reader and their wants.

When you give high regard to your reader, they, in turn, will grant you the respect you seek. The probability of success becomes greater when they help satisfy the needs of others.



Brad G. Philbrick

Brad earned a B.S. degree in Pharmacy from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.