My post on Inc. today, “How Big Words and Jargon Make You Look, and It’s Not Smart,” begins
How Big Words and Jargon Make You Look, and It’s Not Smart
Do you use big words to make you look smart? Do you realize it achieves the opposite?
I guess there’s some logic to thinking that smarter people know more words so they use bigger ones. Maybe people who wish they had more education imagine some of the education they missed included vocabulary.
In my experience, people considered smart use common words to avoid distracting from their ideas and meaning.
Likewise, in business people use jargon, I think to imply authority or mastery. When I teach entrepreneurship, for example, students forget how to change. Instead, every change becomes a “pivot.” Every presentation becomes a “pitch.” Every description becomes an “elevator pitch.”
I find it more annoying than people who say “utilize” instead of “use” and “neuroplasticity” to describe “an ability to learn.” More than annoying, it’s distracting—from you and what you’re saying.
Again, in my experience, the leaders in a field use regular words. With nothing to prove, they prefer that others understand them, which big words and jargon undermine.
Big words reveal more than a lack of education
I used to think the issue was education—that people with less education tried to imply they had more with big words, while more-educated people used regular language to avoid distracting from their meaning.
Read the rest at How Big Words and Jargon Make You Look, and It’s Not Smart.
Read my weekly newsletter
Subscribe for a weekly update of musings on leadership, the environment, and burpees.