Have you ever had a customer, co-worker or manager look at you as if you had two heads? When an IT Professional, speaks it is very important that who we speak to understands what we are saying. You cannot sell an idea, explain an issue or develop a project plan if you who you are speaking to does not understand. The use of jargon is the biggest obstacle that IT Professionals face.
I have actually used an example of what I am talking about in the above paragraph. IT Professionals; what are they? When I use the term IT Professionals, I am referring to any individual who works with technology, programs technology, designs technology and this includes web designers, web developers and many other career paths that touch technology.
Jargon is often used with the assumption that the people who we are talking to will understand. Jargon often makes our sentences shorter and seem simpler in our mind, but often it is more confusing. If someone is looking at you cross-eyed; stop, pause and think of a way you can say the same thing without the use of jargon. Try to use every day examples that someone may understand. If you cannot use everyday example, pause and ensure that the person you are speaking to understands everything. You may be surprised that a quick explanation may save you time and grief in the long run. Some people are sometimes too confused or too caught up trying to understand to ask you for an explanation or definition. Do not be condescending when you do ask and explain. Choose your words wisely. Practice removing the technology jargon and acronyms from your every day speech.
Do not get hung up with details when explaining an issue or solution to someone. They probably do not understand or care to know everything you know. Keep things organized, simple and to the point. Mostly they want to know that you are handling it. If they have a glossed over look in their eye; you have probably gone too far. The rule of thumb I use is that if my family cannot understand, it is too complicated.
Try to paint a picture ( not literally ). A picture or examples of everyday examples will get you farther with people. It is not a race to get in and out of people’s offices or boardrooms. We are there to help people understand our ideas, thoughts, proposals, plans and issues. How can we be effective to our company, communities or teams if people cannot understand us? Sometimes physically drawing an idea on paper will also help people understand. Try it.
Remember who you are talking to.
The best thing anyone ever said to me was “You are the first IT person we could actually understand”. This hit home to me that we need to do better in teaching and educating our technology community how to talk. People are worth talking to and are not beneath us if they cannot understand your gibberish. We can be a confusing bunch. Choose your words wisely.