Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and wanted to stop them mid sentence and say, "I have no idea what you are talking about!" ?


I know I have. 

I don't want to come across stupid or ignorant so I nod and smile graciously.

It's funny how we presume people are at the same level of understanding we are.

Every industry has terminology that only people within the industry would understand. It's called talking shop. Ie, Talking shop for a guitarist would be 'a guitar bridge'.

To most people who aren't in the music industry, it's jargon.

I remember when I started work in the print industry, the first conversations that took place involved a lot of industry terms that unless I had been there for some time I had no idea what they meant.

Things like, 'your saddle stitched booklet can have a gloss cover of 250 gsm but the internals need to be on bond stock.'

I saw this language spilling over into conversations with customers. I could see the frustration from both parties because there was a loss in translation. 

Expectations weren't met and jobs had to be revisited time and again. This of coarse, costing both parties a lot of wasted time and money.

The reality is we forget what it was like when we first started in our industry. We learned the language over a series of years. It stands to reason then - Why do we expect customers to know these terms within the first contact stages?

The truth is, 'talking shop' can actually be quite unproductive in communicating. Not all customers need to know the deep inner workings of our industry.

I received some business advice that I am trying to implement in the early stages of our business.

  • Marketing material should be in layman's terms and very clear.
  • Never presume someone knows what you know - including staff.
  • Get to work on clear precise material to educate staff and clients (if they need to know) to shorten their learning curve. And keep it close for all parties to refer to constantly.