Saturday, September 17, 2011

Misunderstood jargon can put you in harm’s way

In public speaking we must think about communicating clearly to our audience. That includes avoiding jargon.

Back in college I heard a very impressive story about the consequences of being misunderstood. The office manager for an engineering department described to me what had happened to her husband during World War II.

He was an experienced lawyer before enlisting in the US Army. So, he’d applied to use his knowledge of the law in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Instead he wound up in the infantry - eventually leading a rifle company all the way across France and into Germany.

At the end on the war he finally had time to track down what happened to his application form. It turned out that he'd written down that he had "practiced law.” The first clerk who read that jargon phrase describing his qualifications thought it meant he hadn't been a real lawyer - he had just practiced being one. His application never got sent where it should have gone. Instead of a quiet headquarters position, he’d wound up being sent in combat.

The image came from the Library of Congress.

1 comment:

Mr Lonely said...

walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =D

Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..