I was halfway through a rant about the latest dramas in my life with a mentor when he called me out on two behaviours. One was that I was sharing from the problem, not the solution, and two, that I was using jargon he was not familiar with and which made it hard for him to be in the conversation with me.
I was talking at him, not with him. Add that to us being on the phone, having two different accents and being from two different countries, and I might as well have been raving in Martian. Or to myself, which defeats the point of a conversation with other people!
Our talks are not general chit chat, they are planned appointments to discuss recovery – how to live our lives in a saner and more peaceful way. I was on auto pilot and had launched into a download between girlfriends, which usually means relating the same story, but to different women friends (never hold one friend hostage for several hours, you soon run out of friends) until you feel that you have talked enough about it to get it out of your system.
It was not appropriate in this case and my recovery buddy gently pointed that out. Hmmm. Our conversations are not always comfortable, but, like having a private trainer at the gym, I feel the results for days afterwards.
As for jargon – what words do you choose and why?
Growing up feeling different, odd and often unacceptable, I escaped into comics and books. I lost myself in those worlds. I could have told you much more about my fictional experiences than the real world, which I wasn’t keen on being in. I still am a science fiction and fantasy fan, genres that have complex and detailed universes with their own rules, languages and even greetings. There are others who love these worlds and we can happily dip in and out of pop culture references. It means we belong to a warm. comfortable club of which we are valuable members. Speaking of which, I’m off to Armageddon this weekend (a convention for pop culture). I will recognise all the costumes and buy a tee shirt with a quote on it that only a handful of people I meet will understand, it’s code to signal others of my tribe.
However, my buddy noted that jargon can keep me separate from others who want to be in my life. I love playing with language, but when I muddle my metaphors or mix words from various communities like a demented street performer, it can create barriers between me and those trying to be in my life. I’ve also offended many times by using words absentmindedly, which was due to my not being truly present.
Jargon can be cruel, too. We’ve all had the experience of having an “expert” bully or condescend with use of technical or unintelligible words designed to prove their superiority.
I also had a flashback to when I was 14. My best friend bluntly told me to “dumb it down.” She said that my use of “too long” words made me seem like a geek and no one understood me. I took her advice, adapted to my environment, used more simple words and my popularity increased.
When in Rome….use their language if you want to truly connect.