Don't let buzzwords erode communication

June 13, 2011

You've spent years in school and you learned the language. You've got years of experience in conversation with others. You understand the importance of being understood. After all, that's the only way for groups of people to achieve societal and industrial goals.

One would think that our common understanding of the importance of effective communication would lead us to much more effective industrial maintenance. Alas, real life apparently doesn't work that way.

You've spent years in school and you learned the language. You've got years of experience in conversation with others. You understand the importance of being understood. After all, that's the only way for groups of people to achieve societal and industrial goals.

One would think that our common understanding of the importance of effective communication would lead us to much more effective industrial maintenance. Alas, real life apparently doesn't work that way.

Every discipline has its jargon, which makes it easier for practitioners to communicate. But, those jargon elements have a distinct meaning. Anyone who hears one will immediately know exactly what item, physical property, or concept is being discussed. No doubt, your definition of the word “cavitation” is exactly my definition of the same word.

What hampers effective communication in other areas might be the prevalence of those ambiguous buzzwords that pepper our discourse. They make a person sound trendy, but carry no real meaning, except to the speaker. The rest of us are left to guess what’s meant based on the context, tone of voice, and other visual and aural cues.

In 1993, a couple of scientists in California turned the chore of having to listen to so much ambiguity into a game, sometimes called Buzzword Bingo, sometimes by more graphic names. No less a personality than our friend Dilbert participated in at least one session of the game.

I think that funding for maintenance and reliability initiatives would be enhanced by avoiding the use of ambiguous jargon when requesting funding from the gatekeepers at the corporate till.

What do you think?

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