“I’m just ringing to check that you’ve got enough resource to deliver systematically.”

I overheard this on the train. So did most of the carriage.

Deliver systematically? Wouldn’t ‘have you got enough people to do the job’ do? If we want business to sound more human then we should start with the way we speak.

It’s hard – there seems to be a sort of rule in business. We don our corporate armour, pick up our laptop, get on the commuter train and slip into a world where we think we have to sound more important.

The person I overheard was talking about an IT project. Ah IT, loads of jargon. But it’s not just the job you have that makes you sound less human. If you’ve worked for a large organisation (and I have), then you may have fallen into this trap. Do we think it makes us sound knowledgeable? Do we just want to fit in? Do we even realise we’re doing it?

If you catch yourself using jargon, try this checklist:

  1. Would somebody new understand this?
  2. If I used this word outside work would it make sense?
  3. Do I actually sound like me? (If not, how would I say this to a friend.)

If you answered no, why not take a deep breath and try saying it another way. Does the IT man take his children for a day out by train saying ‘are you good to go’? Probably not. So why change who we are when we go to work.

There is no denying that some business shorthand is genuinely useful. But wouldn’t it be refreshing if we just talked like people rather than business manuals? Making our businesses sound more human starts with the people.

Clearer communication helps us to feel more involved at work. Being more involved means we’re likely to put in a bit extra. Extra is good for customers. And imagine how much more interesting train conversations could be without the jargon. That’s good news for the whole carriage.