Three peaks - Jargon Free Emissions
Three peaks - Jargon Free Emissions

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Three peaks - Jargon Free Emissions


‘I hate victims who respect their executioners.’ Jean-Paul Sartre

We are oft confronted in our quotidian existence by a verbosity of industry specific vernacular. From dogmatic assertions by clairvoyant economists, pertinacious telesales persons mythologising the proletariat to magniloquent politicians casting aspersions and seeking at each hurdle to impugn. Constant rhetoric designed to consternate and thereby create a pareidolia that the state has a heart.

I was once lucky enough to be on a community radio station. A friend and I did three two hour sessions. We planned these very carefully and got a good grip on the number of tunes that could be played in a certain time. For our last half hour of the final session we chose the shortest noisiest songs we could and managed to fit twenty-seven tracks into the thirty minutes. Feeling very clever we were then confronted by the next host who was to put it mildly, quite irate. ‘You’ve tuned out all my listeners’ were his words. We hadn’t really thought ahead, had we? I suspect the first paragraph may be the equivalent of that tumultuous last half hour, hopefully not.

It seems people are happy to use jargon, whether consciously or unconsciously, to confuse. Like an illusionists sleight of hand, managing to distract the audience from the reality. An unseen cloud polluting our thoughts. I imagine that some people just tune out at the sound of specific words, words that flip that switch labelled huh/oh. This seems then to keep the masses at bay. Over the last few years there have been a wealth of examples and maybe it’s a bit of a national habit. A population jaded by a past of propaganda. Content that it is the reason for the cheating partner with the drinking problem.

With the advent of the consumer protection act, lawmakers have attempted to redress this situation. The consumer is now entitled to information in plain English. Nowhere is this more visible than in the insurance industry. The onus is on the broker and insurer to ensure that the detail of the product being sold is perfectly understood. It’s a difficult scenario considering the national psyche. Time will hopefully correct this and hopefully the next generation or the one thereafter will look more closely at their progressive constitution, assuming it remains, and question those that look to dupe.

Having said all that though, one of the biggest issues with these wonderful laws is the policing. We are constantly coming across examples of unqualified or even debarred representatives continuing to advise on and sell products of a financial nature. Those that take the law seriously, register accordingly, produce information timeously, seem to be the ones that are most likely to face fines for minor indiscretions. Those who scoff at the law and the inability to police it, fly seemingly under the radar, operating successfully and reaping the rewards (if that’s the correct term).

What we say, is don’t be afraid to question, there are no such things as stupid questions. Stop people if you don’t understand what they’re saying, particularly if it may have a financial effect at a later stage. Don’t just flip your button to ‘huh’. Even if someone seems to be babbling on incoherently we must learn to filter, it may be a personality disorder for some and they may not be able to control it. What we can do as consumers is to take that herd of information and reduce it into the rich gravy we need.

If we learn to filter we may be less intimidated by those that speak with such authority. We may even realise that that authority is merely a screen. There’s probably a good reason why people are taken with those types, and it’s got to do with what society idolises. There’s an old saying that ‘empty vessels make the most noise’, we may have conditioned ourselves though, to believe this noise to be the prettier. If you hit a full vessel you receive a dull flat noise, if you hit an empty vessel you get the sound of drums. Somewhere deep in the recesses of our minds lies a memory of that sound that just seems warmer, prettier and more familiar. Beware though because pretty, like the larkspur, can also be deadly.

Generally the more you learn and the more you know, the more you know you don’t know, if that makes any sense. Never assume that a quick answer is a good answer, it may be but everything needs to be considered. I’m sure everyone has an example of something they were once told in a very confident manner, something that stayed with them for years and then one day they realise it was wrong all along. This applies in insurance as much as I assume it applies in any other industry. Interpretations are handed down from mentor to novice and are not always correct. It is everyone’s’ duty to explore and research and to be comfortable with the understanding. It is in fact a major advantage of dealing with a broker when it comes to your insurance. At the most basic level, one has the advantage of a third opinion but more than that, you should receive a qualified opinion from a qualified professional who is able to speak in plain English to their client but also dance the jargon dance with the insurer.

By no means is this an attack on anyone. We live in a society of instant expectations, there’s an assumption of speed which seems to be accelerating and in so doing things get left behind, lost or completely forgotten. Perhaps its evolution, perhaps like John Harrison’s longitude clock there have been layers and layers of correction so that ultimately the basic design has been lost. It happens all the time in a number of different ways. Some might say it’s progress but it is important to understand the how’s and why’s, and if in fact we’re better-off for it.

Three peaks - Jargon Free Emissions

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