It is so easy to misunderstand each other no thanks to …wait for it … ourselves.
Joy Monteiro, in a recent blog post, talks about how when talking about a book, it is described as “Book Title, 246+x pp” – and she could not find out what ‘pp’ meant. She did the due diligence of googling it. She isn’t lazy – but rather a victim of a crime that I (and the rest of modern humanity) has perpetrated for long enough. It’s Industry Speak.
Every industry has these terms and phrases, or forbid-me-to-say-it acronyms that you have to be ‘in the know’ to know. For those of us that are not practicing hobbits – this can be a bane to communication. That’s the problem with industry speak – it’s there to help us … but eventually it kicks us in our butts when we want to go mainstream with what we know about.
So in my work, there is Electric Vehicle Speak or Smart Grid Speak. On the Sabbath, sometimes I hear Church Speak. All this is well and good in the circles we live – but sometimes we come in contact with … gasp … ‘outsiders’. Sometimes the Greasers talk to the Socs … and that is where the problems begin. (ASIDE: according to the author of that book, S.E. Hinton intended for Socs to be pronouced ‘soashes’ as if trying to shorten the word social. When reading the book in Middle School, I remember referring to them as the ‘socks’. [grin])
I love to learn about other people – pick up on their own ‘speak’. I think I like it so that next time I meet someone from that industry I can have a bag of ‘speak’ up my sleeve to increase engagement and interest in the conversation. I love the eyebrow raise when you say something that makes them realize you know a little something about their passion.
Industry speak comes out of trying to make communication better within a close-knit community – but because this shared tribal knowledge is kept within that smaller group of people, when those terms and phrases are spread to the public, a different mental picture comes to mind – or worse, no mental picture at all.
This is usually why Marketing and Communication (INDUSTRY SPEAK WARNING: ie MarCom) teams exist – to un-speak-ify the speak. It’s hard to preach the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God when the term ‘gospel’ brings to Southerner’s mind people telling you in grocery stores that if you don’t accept Jesus, you are going to hell. For that matter, most people do not even have a working knowledge of what the Kingdom of God is – so who could blame them. The Church of God has it’s work cut out for them … just like most industries do.
I’m not sure how we can avoid this … it’s like what God tells Jeremiah: ‘man does not know how to lead his own steps.’ I am of the belief that the vast majority of us are naturally bad at communication – but there are a few, like my friend Jeremy Lallier, that can ‘connect’ in a subtle, smart, and different way.
This ‘connecting’ idea – the main thrust behind industry speak – the main thought behind ‘communication’ in general – is why we do this to ourselves. We are trying to connect thoughts and feelings with words. (ASIDE: this is branding in a nutshell.) And yet, because we try so hard, we have a tendency to alienate outsiders.
We have to connect when we communicate – and that is why knowing your audience is so important. But by just doing that, we haven’t fixed the issue, we just applied a band-aid. Truly connecting, and throwing industry speak out the window, is the stuff God and His Kingdom is made of.
Boy am I looking forward to the King’s Return … and I’m certainly not talking Tolkien.