We all know someone who uses big words.  You may understand them, you may not, but they risk being misunderstood.  And being understood is the point of communication.  “Know your audience” is a cliché for a reason.

It may not be big words, but the words of your profession or trade.  It could be me talking about equitable subrogation (yes it’s a real term, and no, most of you have no need to know what it means) or a mechanic talking about your car’s camshaft or a doctor explaining a medical condition.  In the right situation I may start with using the term equitable subrogation, but I am going to make sure I go on to explain it in terms my client can understand.

And if your lawyer, mechanic or doctor talks in a way you don’t understand, ask what they are saying.  Make sure you understand.  No one wants to act like they don’t understand what they have been told. But the goal of the speaker is to be understood and the goal of the listener should be to come away understanding what they heard.

If the person you are speaking with doesn’t understand what you said or vice versa, both parties to the conversation lose.  If you remember to communicate to be understood, hopefully this won’t happen to you.