Yesterday a colleague who had been faced with a lot of long documents filled with confusing language came out with a great phrase:
There’s some science to this. Faced with choice overload and unfamiliar phrases one of our automatic responses is to shut things down and move onto something easier.
On Wednesday I was listening to Andy Hollingsworth of the Behavioural Insights Team talk about inertia being a big driver of our behaviour. How removing very small irritations from a process or communication can help people understand you.
It made me think about jargon and how we can unintentionally alienate people.
Defenders of jargon say it acts as necessary professional shorthand – it conveys complicated ideas succinctly. Used well, it does.
The danger comes from using it out of place, especially when dealing with the wider public. It can often distort or confuse.
I’m often guilty of this – words around innovation and design can be especially arcane – often dressing up a simple idea.
Related: Will Busyness Kill Your Creativity?
So I’ve put together a graphic of jargon and phrases that we could all do with using less often.
You might agree or disagree or want to add more – let me know!