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To Jargon or Not to Jargon: The Price-Perception Dilemma

Why is the left side of a ship called “port” and the right side “starboard” instead of using plain old left and right? Well, if you say “left”, this certainly can mean “my left” but also “your left” also known as “my right”. At sea, this sort of ambiguity can cost lives.

The pre-14th century ships were navigated by a big oar pivoted on the right side of the boat, so that became “starboard” or “steer-board”. In order to protect that crucial mechanism, ships avoided docking on that side, so the opposite side was facing the port – hence “port side”.

So “portside” doesn’t mean “left” it means “the left side of the boat, provided you are looking at the pointy bit”. For sailors, this distinction is necessary. To the rest of us, it’s an unnecessary complication.

Does using the correct terms cost you money? Oh, yes and no.

And people\

Yes, because the more jargon you use, the less chance the audience has of understanding what you are trying to say. You using more correct terms will be appreciated by peers, not laypeople. And the less they understand, the less value they see, hence are willing to pay less.

No, because we as laypeople secretly want experts to act a little aloof, a little quirky. Because if they dress and talk just like us, maybe they know as little as we do, too.

The amount of jargon you use needs to be a conscious decision, tailored to the kind of audience you could reach.

Want to hear more?

I talked to not just a coach, but a veteran coach of coaches Deb King in the latest episode of the Fearless Pricing Podcast’s “What I should have charged” series. 

We talked about why we need our work to sound complicated or feel hard to do in order for its results to feel valuable to us so that we can feel justified in charging more for it.

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