I love books; I don’t think that there is anyone who knows me that would argue with that! And I really love old books; especially the feeling that comes with picking up a book over a hundred years old with a real sense of all those who have loved and cherished it before you.
So, it will be no surprise that I am usually one of the first that haunts the bi-annual charity Bookfest here in Brisbane, and some of the books I find are amazing. I am also always on the lookout for books that deal with our special interests of communication and leadership; and I have quite a collection.
On my last foray, I picked up a book published in 2004, which dealt with communication for building relationships between people and cultures. I thought it sounded really interesting and so brought it home.
Now, you need to understand that Trischel has been in the business of personal communication training for a number of years and we have a rather good idea of what is what.
So my eyebrows raised slightly when I read about “communication apprehension”, This seemed to be a problem I had not come across before; – and then, reading further I realised that they were actually talking about the very natural and understandable “fear of public speaking”!
Now, if I raised the question of ‘fear of public speaking’ most of you would immediately have some personal recognition; you would have a real understanding of what I was talking about. But would it have the same impact if I referred to it as “communication apprehension”?
We also teach techniques on how to overcome this communication apprehension; as indeed does this book. I bemusedly worked through the three most effective ways to deal with communication apprehension; they were:
Cognitive Reconstructing; Systematic Desensitization and Skill Acquisition.
I am confused; we teach Visualisation, Familiarisation and Practice!
What the authors of this book were guilty of, was of course, using JARGON.
Jargon is not just modern teenage language; it can also be that unique vocabulary that identifies your special career stream; and no prizes for guessing what career stream these authors came from – that’s right; the book was designed for students of psychology.
Alas, there are also those who use this type of language to assume an air of superiority! If I go around advising that you engage in cognitive reconstruction to overcome your communication apprehension I can feel a sense of engagement with those others who use the same type of language to differentiate themselves.
In other words, we can create a sense of unity as well as a sense of exclusiveness merely by the way we choose to communicate. However, such language is not always available to others, who now can feel outsiders.
In this case I have enough understanding of the subject to delve beneath the jargon and find the real meaning. But it leaves me with a sense of frustration that something which is so natural and normal can be so disguised to seem only comprehensible to the chosen few.
So if you find yourself using jargon in your public speaking, just remember that you might be alienating a good percentage of your audience merely by your choice of language.
Jargon does not make for clear communication – it has no role in public speaking.