Fuck the Lingo, Clarity is More Impressive
There are so many showoffs in this world. You want to show off your watch, or your car, or your killer hair-do? Cool, I can tolerate it. What continues to frustrate me in the business world is people showing off with Lingo.
Sure, one can pontificate upon some pompous ponderings along the collective synapse of our social paradigm thereby exacerbating a grandiose public perception with aplomb, but that ain’t going to pay the bills. Simplify your language.
Lingo, industry jargon, the specialized vocabulary used for a specific niche; it’s a very useful way to speed up communication between people who understand the underlying concepts. If you’re speaking to someone unfamiliar with the concepts of your niche, using lingo SLOWS DOWN communication, and CONFUSES people. It also creates the annoying awkwardness of someone having to ask for clarification to understand you. This is unhelpful, demonstrates poor communication skills, and serves to make you less valuable.
Sounds pretty obvious, but if you’re in business you’re probably already doing this now. If you are exceptionally intelligent, I’m almost certain of it.
Of course lingo is very useful, but it’s a judgment call on when to use it. ALWAYS err on the side of clarity.
Not doing so means you are either showing off, oblivious, lazy, or all of the above. None of which is acceptable for generating business.
Generating business is done by overcoming challenges, simplifying complications, producing results, etc. It has nothing at all to do with talking like a businessman.
It is surprisingly common for a businessman to use as much lingo as possible to impress customers with his knowledge. Actually, he’s usually so proud of the insider lingo he’s learned, ESPECIALLY when others don’t understand. Fuck man, that dude is lost.
Show off your competence in your field, not your knowledge of esoteric terms. Lingo is NOT a crutch to lean on for credibility, it is NOT a substitute for contributing value.
Do Not EVER Use any fucking Lingo unless you are CERTAIN the other person clearly understands it and is used to it.
It doesn’t matter how good of a solution you have if you’re not able to clearly communicate it.
Being knowledgeable and being understood are two different things. Both are your responsibility, if you want cash in your pocket. Did you hear that?
BEING UNDERSTOOD IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!
Do whatever the fuck you need to do to make sure you are understood clearly.
(Bear in mind that your customer sometimes must explain to others why he chose to work with you, and if that can’t be explained clearly because everything is vague, you are losing business you’ll never be aware of losing, and needlessly putting many of your deals in jeopardy that require work to recover.)
Let’s say you work in website creation and you’re helping a local bicycle shop get online. Don’t use the term SEO. Don’t even talk about Search Engine Optimization unless you know they understand what that is. Tell them you are going to optimize the text on their site to help make sure the site lists closer to the top of Google’s search results when people search for the term “bicycle”. Then tell them that this service is called Search Engine Optimization, what we often abbreviate as SEO. That demonstrates more knowledge and competence than telling your customer, “You obviously need to ramp up the SEO on your site. Oh, you don’t know what SEO means? Oh my, you have a lot to learn”. Expect a bicycle shop owner not to know about SEO. If fact, nobody knows SEO unless their business is centered around the web.
I once had a friend who when writing even casual emails would pull out a thesaurus and find bigger words to replace common words in his sentences, so that he appears more eloquent. FAIL. I would have to pull out the thesaurus just to read his emails, ultimately realizing that his sentences no longer made sense.
The worst business lingo misuse offenders seem to be the guys that stay past college to get their Masters degree in Business Administration (MBAs). From my experience in the world of entrepreneurs (and I think the few successful entrepreneurs with MBAs can agree) most MBAs are often worse than useless. They are a hindrance. Their entrepreneurial peers usually have had a string of business accomplishments while an MBA has spent all this time in school and comes out without anything to show for himself but advanced theoretical concepts and a lot of lingo to represent them. MBAs are notorious for not helping others understand what they’re trying to say. Quite the opposite, they usually ramp up the lingo to impress everyone, compensating for their lack of any actual accomplishments. It’s a fun time to watch 2 MBAs get into a pissing match by throwing as much lingo at each other as possible; just ending up masturbating over each other and getting nowhere. “Well I think we need to hire a solid GM to focus on our KPIs to increase our ROIs and bring down our LTVs; I expect he’ll be accredited with an MSIV LMNOP ABC ATT DirecTV Windows XP.” All that education, and his potential customers end up confused. The MBA retains his elitism but finds himself struggling and bitter. I would tell an MBA in that position to STOP. Humble yourself. You are not a Businessman, you haven’t earned any money yet, you are still a student, and your real education hasn’t begun. You can not get anywhere until you accept that so you can move past it, so you can learn how to connect, so you can develop into a true warrior on the entrepreneur battlefield.
Being a student is nothing to be ashamed of. We are all students in some respect, and hopefully we always will be. I am continually learning and growing.
What I hope you learned today is that there is NO EXCUSE for using Lingo with someone who doesn’t understand it. It’s one of the silliest practices that occurs commonly in the business world.
I know you’re intelligent and sophisticated. That’s great. Learn to explain yourself as if you’re a truck driver with a limited vocabulary. Your clarity will increase. Your accessibility will increase. Your amount of connections will increase. Your effectiveness will increase. Your impact will increase. Your sales will increase. The cash in your pocket will increase. Clarity is a skill. Work on it. It’s worth it.
(ps. This whole article also applies to getting your point across in more academic fields like philosophy, psychology, politics, etc. Philosophy is about getting to the fundamentals of questions about the nature of our reality, how we know what we know, how we should act with each other. It has nothing at all to do with talking like a philosopher. Being understood is your responsibility. Look to the writing here as an example.)