On the Shoulders of Giants

by Brian SperonelloIcon

Why Buzzwords are the Sign of an Amateur

Whenever I hear people using buzzwords, it usually makes me cringe. For the longest time I couldn't understand why — after all, they are just terms used to express the common understanding of a complex idea in a single word or phrase. And there definitely times when I hear buzzwords used appropriately and have no problem with it, so for the longest time I couldn't figure out why I was so frequently disgusted.

The other day, it finally hit me.

Most of the time I cringe at buzzwords not because of the words themselves, but because of how they are being used; and more importantly what it says about the person using them. Most often, people use buzzwords because they are trying to sound fancy and impressive in order to cover up their lack of understanding for the topic.

When studying a new subject, new terminology is usually one of the first things that people are taught. These terms allow you to speak the language of the subject matter, and provide the foundation for you to develop a higher level of understanding.

Now there is obviously a need to have a common set of terminology in order to communicate effectively about a topic. The difference is that people with a mastery of the subject matter will use these words in a context that supports the idea they are trying to convey, while people using buzzwords use them in a way that shows off their use of the terms more so than their ideas.

In talking this way, these amateurs are broadcasting their laziness. They memorize a phrase and a quick definition and they're on their way, trying to sound like an expert without investing the time to develop a true understanding for the subject matter.

Because buzzwords simplify the concept into a single word, it also makes the concept easier for the uninitiated to understand. This allows them to ignore the intricacies in the subject matter that the buzzwords cover up. They only understand the simplification of the topic, instead of grasping it in-depth.

Using the latest buzzword can sometimes impress (or intimidate or bully) someone who is unfamiliar with the subject matter into thinking you are legitimate. But to someone who knows what they're talking about, it will only indicate that you have a surface understanding of the topic and are trying to compensate for that by using fancy terms.

Now I'm not saying don't use buzzwords. Like I said, using a common language for a given topic is essential for communicating effectively. Just don't fall into the trap of thinking memorizing a bunch of fancy words makes you a master on a subject. Or even worse, speaking like it does.


Post a Comment 0 comments:

Post a Comment