Tag Archives: Plain English

Maintaining crystal clear communication?

I was very interested to see that the Plain English Campaign has awarded Halfords a Crystal Mark for their plain English ‘Glossary of garage speak’. This publication is designed to remove some of the confusion and stress many customers feel when dealing with the motor trade because they don’t always understand the jargon.

Jargon can be used by groups both as a means of easing communication within the group and excluding the rest of the world. It is clear that jargon sometimes gets in the way of good communication; especially where there is a difference of knowledge and understanding amongst the participants. That’s not to say that it is intended to confuse but …

Effective communication needs to be  simple, clear and to use language which is equally understandable to everyone.

I’ve long been a supporter of the Plain English Campaign and frequently suggest their effective guides to students and clients alike to help them improve their writing.

I also understand the complaints about excessive jargon and “management speak” – such as mentioned in this BBC story [and an earlier posting] about confusing language used by local government. It is concerning for me also because my business name – Fulcrum [the pivot about which a lever turns]; is on the list of “banned words”.

However, I also subscribe to Albert Einstein’s observation that “everything should be made be a simple as possible, but no simpler” and there are occasions when jargon can express a concept much more succinctly than everyday language and times when a metaphor can make complex ideas easier to understand.

I’m passionate about clear communication and strive to use jargon only when it is absolutely necessary, is appropriate to the situation and is properly explained.

You should think about the effect the language you use has on your customers.

What can you do to reduce the use of jargon and improve quality?

What benefits could you expect if your customers had a clearer understanding of what you could do for them?