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Avoiding jargon for better communication

By Adrian Bo
13 May 2022 | 4 minute read
Adrian Bo 2 reb

“I am going to knock out some price checks today after smashing the phones yesterday.”

My colleagues in real estate would know what I am talking about, but outside the industry, people would think I am speaking a foreign language.

And to a certain extent, it is a foreign language. Every industry has its jargon (which includes things like acronyms), and it is universally used, but from the real estate perspective, unfortunately, it is starting to creep into our discussions with prospective buyers and sellers.

Indeed, there is a very simple way of avoiding jargon and, at the same time, dramatically improving everything you write or say. 

Instead of saying what is in your head, say it from inside the head of your clients. The benefit will be immediate. All you have to do is imagine what your customer wants to hear.

Have you ever heard any of your customers, buyers or sellers say: “When are the opens?”

Out there, in the real world, people do not speak the way we do. All we have to do is talk to them in their own vernacular. Let us show people we really know our business by talking to them in the way they speak to each other, not how we speak to each other.

The Harvard Business Review has research that says people who use industry jargon to people outside their industry are showing off, and this can make you appear manipulative and less likeable.

I have made a list of some of the words and phrases we use around the office but not when we are out in the field talking to clients. (In fact, “out in the field” could be considered jargon. Better, “out of the office”.) You can probably add plenty to the list.

  • “Stock’ would be better as listings or inventory
  • “Vendor” – client
  • “Conditioning sellers” – professionally managing expectations
  • “Squeeze buyers” – support buyers through the process
  • “Crunch” – negotiate
  • “Sold above reserve price” – exceeded the owner’s expectations
  • “Opens” – open home inspections
  • “Conditional” – sold with a cooling-off period
  • “Unconditional” – sold without a cooling-off period
  • “Under the hammer” – sold at auction with a binding contract 
  • “Guys and girls” – Sir and madam
  • Auctioneer says “new blood” – welcome to the bidding process sir/madam
  • “Must be sold” – the sellers are motivated and have realistic expectations
  • “Cheap price range” – affordable entry-point opportunity
  • “Assistant” – client services manager
  • “Receptionist” – front office manager
  • “Sales negotiator” – sales executive
  • “Prospector” – new business manager
  • “Prospecting” – generating new business
  • “Smash the phones” – productive and personalised client calls
  • “Email blast” – EDM (electronic direct mail)
  • “On a contract” – a signed genuine offer has been received 

To quote Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well.”

Adrian Bo is a licensed agent and auctioneer, sales training academy founder and author.

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