One summer I was working as an engineering intern at a high tech medical equipment company. I was asked to try and document an informal process that had been developed through years of engineering work. Naturally, I wanted to legitimize my work and my contribution. I worked hard on producing the kind of document I thought that they wanted.

My first draft was returned with the feedback that it was too difficult to understand, along with a copy of “Writing for Scientists and Engineers”. I had worked my butt off, and I was disappointed.

In hindsight, I totally missed the mark. I was trying so hard to fit in that I used all the engineering terms and industry jargon I could think of. I wanted to be one of the guys, not the outsider that I felt like… so I mimicked what I saw. It’s a great survival strategy in unfamiliar situations, but it burned me here.

I was in a unique situation as an outsider. Speaking the jargon wasn’t natural to me which made me the best person to translate their complex process into plain English. That what they wanted me to do, and once I saw the vision, that’s what I did.

Jargon isn’t constructive. Simplicity is always better than complexity.