Monday, November 12, 2007

The Subtle Dangers of Jargon

Web 2.0Today in sales training we were talking about jargon and how it is a Bad Thing to use it. The primary problem, of course, is that you aren't guaranteed that the person with whom you are speaking will know what you are talking about. This makes them feel not OK. When you make someone feel not OK they tend to want to get away from you as soon as possible -- which makes it very difficult to determine if they are interested and qualified to buy from you.

Working with my partner in class, we were bringing up various terms in our businesses which might cause consternation in a listener. We realized that there was another danger. Not only could we hit upon a term which the listener didn't know, worse would be a term that the listener thought he knew. One example of this was the phrase "Web 2.0". Even amongst different people in the tech business, you can find different meanings for this term.

In group discussion later, I brought up the term and talked about our findings. Then one of the other students pointed out a completely different issue. For the most part, people in the world of the Web recognize Web 2.0 as the next generation of the Web, with emphasis on the social aspects of making connections using the Web.

This person commented that he always thought that Web 2.0 meant that a site was really old and not yet perfected. Curious, I asked him why he would think that. He told me that "2.0" is a pretty low number. Internet Explorer is on Version 7 after all, so that must make Web 2.0 pretty old.

Huh, I guess I never thought of it that way.

How have people either in or out of your field misinterpreted common jargon phrases that you commonly use?

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