How Trust Gets Eroded By Jargon

I just finished watching the first four seasons of “The House of Lies” on Netflix with my husband. It is smart, edgy and too close to the truth about how people might sound in some competitive corporate environments where winning is the only goal.

Maybe you haven’t experienced that yourself in any way. Or have you on a smaller scale?

Imagine you are at a high end car dealership picking up your car after repairs. As you are paying your bill, the very friendly client care rep is explaining to you what they did to your car in a language that is filled with acronyms and industry specific language. As you look at your bill, you scratch your head wondering what the hell this all means.

The only thing that seems to be clearly and concisely laid out is what will go through your credit card.

You are smart, well read and pride yourself on being a good communicator. Your requests for clarification just confuse you more and you are starting to feel a little defensive for not understanding everything that’s on the bill.

Did the representative trigger your emotional attachment to the car? Just like parents buy more for their kids than necessary, are you justifying expenses without really being clear on what you just paid for? After all, this car is an investment and you need to protect your investment. Right?

We’ve all been there in one form or another where we second guess ourselves and start mistrusting the other person. We walk away from these situations thinking that we might have been taken advantage of, but we can’t really prove it.

How is it where you work?

Do we talk over people’s heads sometimes to get the upper hand? We’ve all heard the saying “bulls**t baffles brains”. That saying may come to mind when we are talking about our dealings with fast talking salespeople.

It is our responsibility to make sure that we are not guilty of triggering that very thought in people when we are communicating with them. Whether clients or colleagues, they mustn’t walk away wondering if we somehow just “slipped one by them”.

Its human nature that if we are not clear on what the person is saying to us, our egos get triggered and we can start feeling insecure. Conversely, if we want to increase our clients trust, we simply need to speak their language.

How do you build relationships?

Isn’t that car dealership experience similar to other communications? When someone is upset, and we make the effort to try to understand their point of view and use their own language, they suddenly feel understood and become capable of dialoguing.

But, if they don’t understand what you are saying, or if they don’t feel understood, their level of suspicion and mistrust escalates.

Here’s what you can do:

If someone is upset and you want to deescalate the situation; make sure you’re not trying to sound smarter using $15 words when a clear $10 word is available. Keeping it simple is key to elevating trust. Not only do we improve the communication, we improve the quality of the relationship.

There are many elements to communicating collaboratively. Besides needing to:

  • be clear on goals,
  • listen to the other person and reflect back,
  • be open to adjusting expectations;
  • we also need to eliminate goobledygook from our language to decrease miscommunication and elevate trust.

If you would like a simple script on how you might ask someone to be clearer in the way they communicate with you, check out the one page cheat sheet that walks you through a four step script.

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