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Jargon is the Obstacle in Communication

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Jargon Is The Obstacle In Communication

I love to use podcasts as a way to clear my head and inspire creativity. New to my queue is “Game Plan,” a show by Bloomberg that dives into office culture. I listened to their episode on office jargon, and it made me think of just how easily the mass communication business can turn into the miscommunication business.

Most industries have jargon, and advertising is no exception. But our industry is different from many others. Our job is to construct and communicate messages to consumers clearly; and to do that, advertisers have the responsibility to break down a few communication barriers.

How to Eliminate Jargon from Our Work

  • Know how to Communicate with Clients - The core of a successful client relationship is clear communication. At Xdesign, we take pride in our client relationships. When we’re working for a client, it’s our responsibility to understand his or her business deeply. Part of this is learning about the industry-specific language. It’s also our duty to clearly communicate with our clients.
  • Clearly Communicate with Coworkers - Teamwork is essential to the advertising industry, and to work as a team, clear communication is a must.
  • Translate Jargon to Consumers - Most importantly, we must simplify messages for our clients’ customers. We’re always creating and translating messages to consumers, and we know that the best stories are told with ease.
  • About Jargon - Not only can jargon interfere with our communication goals, but the language is also meaningless and pretentious. According to the podcast, “Business speak has a surprisingly long history, going all the way back to the 17th century. When sending letters between Britain and America, shipping merchants would write in a way they thought sounded smart, using a lot of unnecessary and empty words. As others read the letters, this way of writing spread, and so jargon was born. And that's still how it gets perpetuated today.”


At the last “Friday at 4,” we played a game similar to Balderdash, using cards with office jargon terms and phrases on them. The phrases got pretty ridiculous, like “bleeding edge” and “open the kimono.” After the jargon was read by one player, all the other players wrote down a definition for that card. The players had to guess what the jargon meant or bluff their definition. All the cards were read aloud, and each player voted the correct definition. If a player’s definition was chosen, a point was awarded to that player. If a player picked the right definition, they got a point, too. If a player submitted a definition that was close to the correct term, they got a point as well. If no one guessed the actual definition, the reader got three points.

It was a fun way to spark creativity in writing and persuasion, and the game allowed us to assess our own use of the dreaded language. Even commonly used phrases, like “let’s circle back to this,” can become confusing and unnecessary.

Once we realize how our words are perceived, it’s easier to construct more meaningful messages and accomplish our communication goals.

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