Lose the Jargon: The Truth About $10 Words

We do the weirdest things to make people think we’re worthy of their attention, or money.

No matter what you do or where you come from, there’s this little voice in most of us that just wants to be wanted. We want people to think we’re worthy, we’ve got something really good to offer.

For many of us, part of that equation is that we want others to see us as smart. If you’re building a career around being what my friend calls a smarticle particle, it’s pretty important. That’s cool. But, here’s where things often go off the rails. And, trust me, I’m speaking from experience.

Not infrequently, that urge to be seen as smart enough, coupled with a wee bit of imposter syndrome (seriously, does anyone not have at least a touch of it?), leads us to want to say things in a way that make us sound smarter.

Where a $1 word or phrase would do, we use (and often make up) a $10 word or phrase. Because, hey, preternatural sounds smarter than weird. Proprietary Multisensory Phased Metaphor Story-Architecture Persuasion Framework (PMPMSAPF) sounds better than “tell stories that make people buy.” And exponential growth-hacking sounds fancier than “grow faster with less effort.”  That last one, by the way, I’ve found myself using recently. Ugh!

Here’s the deal…

Using jargon—large or sometimes even made up terms of art that don’t easily describe what we’re talking about on the surface—don’t make us sound smart, they make us sound arrogant and inaccessible. They don’t draw people in and engender trust and rapport, they push people away.

And they create an understanding gap. People don’t learn anything, but they nod their heads because they don’t want to admit they’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. Then, instead of asking what you mean, they just walk away, still dumbfounded. Everyone loses.

That’s what I’m talking about on today’s GLP Riff, along with what to do about it.

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