Business teams will never understand your jargon

11 Nov 2020

If you work in IT you have probably heard someone say ‘The business teams don’t understand your jargon’. Jargon is one of the most common communication issues people have with technical teams. And let’s face it, business teams will never understand your jargon.

What is jargon?

Some of you may not be familiar with the term jargon. It would be somewhat ironic if people couldn’t understand this article because I hadn’t explained the term! Jargon is when people communicate using words that mean something specific to their own work, group, or situation. Anyone not familiar with the topic may not understand the words. Or they may interpret them differently than you intended.

Jargon isn’t just an IT problem

Contrary to popular belief, jargon isn’t limited to IT developers or software coding languages.

Business stakeholders are guilty of this communication issue just as much as technical teams. But the reason tech teams get a bad reputation for using jargon is they use a lot more of it. IT and tech teams live in a world of systems, applications, rules and acronyms. This is usually more complex than the terminology used to describe business processes. Plus, technical professionals specialize in specific fields. The deeper someone gets in a field of expertise, the more jargon they use.

Every team, in every company, in every industry speaks its own language. Jargon can include system names, process names, acronyms and initialisms. Really, it is any terminology that is specific to the role of the group. This is true for both technical and non-technical teams. For example, HR terminology is different from marketing. This, in turn, is different from structural engineering or JAVA development. Anyone working in these areas automatically uses jargon when talking about their topic.

How to avoid using jargon if you work in IT

Don’t talk about the specifics of your system or technology when talking to business stakeholders.  In fact, this is true when talking to anyone who is not in your team or your specific technical domain. While a description of a Kafka topic or an H-base table might mean something to you, it doesn’t mean anything to most of your stakeholders.

Instead of using jargon, you should talk in terms of outcomes, capabilities, end-user functionality, features, or processes.

Relate your message things the business stakeholders care about, using words they understand. Do this and you will have conquered the biggest challenge in communication at work.

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In this course you’ll learn how to:

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  • Simplify complex ideas and communicate in a way that is jargon-free


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