Every profession has terms that are specific to it. Jargon. Jargon within the profession can have a clarifying effect and can often be a shorthand for more wordy concepts. So jargon has a worthwhile effect WITHIN the profession where everyone understands what is meant.
A profession’s jargon when used with the public or with clients has the opposite effect - obfuscation, confusion. It doesn't matter whether you intend to make it difficult to be understood, or if it is unintentional. The result is the same. You have chosen (intentionally or not) to rely on the authority of your role as a specialist instead of making yourself clear. I think that this comes across as arrogance. I think it is another way of saying, "Just trust me." Trust is earned, jargon gets in the way of trust.
Everyone has experience with obfuscation. You are in the minority if you don't find it at least annoying.
Why would you choose to NOT be understood? I can think of one or two scenarios, but they are outweighed by many more that are not very attractive.
What if you think in jargon? Well, that clears up your motives for using it, but you are still left with poor communication and lack of understanding.
Whenever you need agreement, jargon works against you. Even if you get the agreement, the client has an escape hatch - "I didn't know that's what we agreed to" or "I don't remember discussing that".
You can tell that I am not a fan of jargon. I don't think it is just me. If it sounds better when you use jargon, I think it is because the jargon conceals the weakness of the idea(s). Do we want weak ideas? I don't.
But let's go back to the trust issue. I have heard it said that there are two things you must demonstrate to win a design job - technical competence and trustworthiness that you will deliver on your promises. For many clients judging technical competence depends on past experience. Have you done this before or not? But all clients can judge trustworthiness. They do it all the time. So I think jargon lets you down in the exact scenario where you are really depending on it to make you look like a good choice.
Lack of understanding (jargon) and trustworthiness travel in different circles.
Using a survey as a marketing tactic is an interesting idea I heard about from a university development director. He uses a survey to ask for prospect's help in determining what is important for the university and ends up knowing what is important to them. He then looks for opportunities to focus on what is important to them.
For instance he would ask prospects to rank 8 initiatives in order of importance. (These initiatives are plans that his development department is working on.) Then months later he can use their ranking to go back to them and tell them about what was happening on that issue. And perhaps win their financial support.
This approach accomplishes two important things. First, you are gaining an insight into what your prospect's interests are, which can inform your approach to them in the future. Second, you are creating a basis for interaction before a project is launched. Asking for help is a well-known tactic for building a relationship. A third benefit is that the process offers an additional opportunity to remind your prospect that you exist.
My development department friend asks for an appointment and does the survey in person, taking notes. That is a very powerful way to implement this tactic. However, the time and attention this requires might not work in every case. Plan B is an electronic survey distributed by email. Survey Monkey is a free (and easy) survey tool you could use. There are others.
You should keep the survey brief and state up front how many questions and how long it will take. Make it as brief as you can while still getting some useful feedback. Below is an example/sample survey. Feel free to use these questions as-is or customize to suit yourself. Each of the first four questions offer the same choices to choose from.
We once surveyed all of our past clients about their experience with us. The feedback caused us to make some improvements. You might consider that use of a survey, too. Or you could make it part of your project closeout. Or make it an annual event.
orig post date Dec 2012