I recently spent many hours navigating through a hosting change for my website. It was something that could probably have been quickly accomplished, but language got in the way. Repeated tickets and indistinguishable responses punctuated my peace throughout the day.
For every response I received from customer service, I had to ask for a translation. No, it wasn’t because the ‘experts’ work in another country and don’t speak English. It was because they spoke highly polished technical jargon that might as well have been modern Greek, from my perspective.
All day I felt confused and ignorant because I did not understand phrases like, “cpanel login details of cloud server 293.333.9476.998 . . . ” or “update your domain name with name servers to point them to (X) server at your domain registrars end” . . . to name but a couple of the instructions I received.
Many of you IT friends might understand these words, because you have studied and work with the concepts and are familiar with them.
I’m not a total ignoramus! But as the day wore on, I struggled with sinking frustration that comes with searching, deciphering, and repeatedly asking for help. I felt belittled. A couple of times I responded, “Please treat me like I am a first-grader and keep your instructions clear and simple so I can understand what you are asking.”
Task accomplished! But not without some pain. I now know a few more words that sound more like codes.
My customer service conversation exasperation is not uncommon to most of us. But how often are we the ‘perpetrators’ of treating people thusly?
Every one of us may be guilty of not assessing our ‘audience’ or conversation partners’ ability to understand before we launch into words and concepts well outside of their comprehension level.
It does not communicate love, compassion, or desire to help when to make others strain and work to understand what we say.
Effective communication better occurs when we make the effort to get out of our own little world and consider others’ history, worldview, abilities, and language—and speak to them accordingly.
Often, this means dropping our specialized Insider-lingo. Outsiders don’t understand it. And we make them feel more like an Outsider when we use it.
Adjusting our approach is the considerate thing to do, whether our ‘business’ is web, banking, sales, ministry, teaching, dream interpretation, parenting, or anything else.
If we make that effort (which requires listening to them a little bit, paying attention to THEM), the other person won’t end up feeling stupid because we may have acted arrogant and condescending toward them.
It is a dream of mine to be an excellent communicator, surpassing mere verbiage and addressing peoples’ hearts as well as their task needs. I consider it a rewarding challenge, to study people, build a relationship bridge, and successfully connect so that everyone feels honored.
In what settings do you often find yourself feeling like an Outsider because you do not understand the lingo being spoken?
In what settings might you be guilty of using Insider lingo in a way that is confusing to others? What steps can you do to make a change toward more effective communication?
Communication Fail by Insider Lingo