Our kind of detox: a jargon free January

Posted: Friday, 24 May 2019 @ 16:19

We were always taught that you should choose your words carefully, never using more complicated terms than necessary to make your point.  To do anything else was considered rude.

Today however, it seems that the use of unnecessary jargon and buzzwords goes beyond being rude, and oscillates between being inaccurate on one the one hand and designed to exclude on the other.  So this January, perhaps it’s time for us all to say what we mean?

We’re not the only ones to note and question this trend.  Leasing World reported this month, saying that recent research by Wyelands Bank reveals financial service providers use too much jargon for relatively simple terms.  It found there are nearly 30 different terms for just three financial products. Iain Hunter, CEO of Wyelands Bank, said, "jargon does not differentiate through innovation, but through confusion.  It makes it harder for customers to understand what they are looking for or to make the right decisions about what solution to choose.”

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Marketing seems to be the main culprit in the proliferation of jargon and buzzwords, but it has rapidly made its way into business parlance as well.  It’s a fashion that goes far beyond financial services however, and at times verges on absurdly humorous. One gets the feeling that Samuel Beckett could have fashioned a very successful round two of Waiting for Godot out of it all.  

For example, in 2019 hotels are not merely small but ‘boutique’ or ‘bijoux’, even when they are, in actual fact, just small. Everything down to your last paperclip is ‘sustainable’; brands take us on ‘journeys’ all over the world; we don’t choose anymore - we ‘curate’; knowing that reinventing the wheel is pointless we ‘re-imagine’ it instead; we only eat ‘artisan’ fare; ‘mindfulness’ is the cure for all ills; and we invest in ‘real estate’ with ‘realtors’ instead of property with estate agents.

Meanwhile at work we have all been encouraged to engage in a toe curling amount of ‘blue sky thinking’, new recruits the world over are mystified by the ‘onboarding’ processes, and ‘paradigm shifts’ have been giving middle management whiplash.

Simple pleasures

While it’s all well and good having the odd word or phrase racketing around as shorthand for a particular concept, for the most part jargon doesn’t seem designed to make life easier.  It generally seems to be about making something sound bigger, better or more complicated than it actually is. As if being complicated is by nature a good thing.

In the context of marketing, jargon is designed to make something sound more exclusive than it is.  In business however, it’s often a rather undermining tool which, intentionally or otherwise, seeks to create divisions between those who are in the know and those who are not.  It’s a sort of businessman/woman’s version of the movie Mean Girls.

The peculiar thing about it, is that while everyone’s running around trying to make sure they understand the jargon and laughing heartily (and thankfully) when they’re in with the in crowd, it all seems to get in the way of actually doing a good job.  

As you will know, at Rivers Leasing we are not really ones for having glitter thrown in our eyes.  We like to keep things simple. That means saying it as we see it when it comes to decisions about a loan, keeping communication lines short so you don’t have to play a telephone version of Crystal Maze to speak to a decision maker, and dispensing with unnecessary jargon.  After all, we think it’s good practice, and frankly, it’s polite.

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