Management of Measurement Constructs

Notebook, March 31, 2004

The Impediment of Jargon

“The herringbone brickwork, ingenious as it was, would not alone have been enough to stop the dome collapsing inward. The real stroke of genius was in creating a kind of circular skeleton over which the external octagonal structure of the dome took shape. That is, the dome was constructed to that it contained within the thicknesses of its two shells a series of continuous circular rings…”

“There is an effusive flow from the maxillary sinus that dehydrates and irritates the nasal pharynx and uvula.”

“Zen is more interested in emptying than filling. Getting is delusion; letting go is enlightenment. Health is a matter of having space. This difference between east and west …”

and one more:

“The major scale which has the same letter name as the I chord will complement the IIm7 chord. In the key of C major, the C major scale is played with the IIm7chord. In this instance, the Iim7 is treated as a substitute for the I chord.”

These four paragraphs are very hard to understand, not because of poor composition, but because of specialized words, concepts, and mind-set preconditions necessary to reading what is presented.

The first describes the creative design essence of Brunelleschi’s grand dome construction for the Duomo in Florence. The second describes a nasal drip. The third sets the scene for Zen therapy discussion, and fourth sets the ground for jazz embellishment in music. –But the paragraphs communicate nothing unless a specialized mind-set is established first.

In an astrological consultation, how many clients could possibly benefit from the following paragraph: “You have the Sun in Scorpio and the Moon in Aries making you [ugh!] very self-promoting with a wide range of emotions, but this is modified by the Sun’s conjunction with Neptune and the Moon’s quindecile with Neptune, which points up the powerful importance of Neptune, ruler of the 3rd, establishing a private mindset that is vague or withdrawn, all wrapped up in the Fire Grand Trine.”

It takes 34 seconds to speak that jargon, those 67 words. What does that communicate to the client? How does that help the client’s understanding of self-development? Are there now thirty minutes of explaining to do? Have your client’s expectations of you and the consultation been smashed? How can you recover faith, practicality, and results?

It would certainly be magically transformed if these words were used instead: “I think it will be helpful for our discussion today to start with the defensive position that is suggested here in the horoscope; why do you think such ego-protection is necessary? … Why have your high-potential powers been withdrawn into your own world, listening to your own drumbeat? … Has it always been this way? … When did it start? … How are you losing touch with the people who could mean so much to you? ... How can we fix this?”
This clear, stimulating paragraph, a translation of the jargony paragraph, delivers great impact.

What keeps astrologers tied to jargon? I think astrologers, in the beginning of their study especially, somehow sense that using jargon connotes personal power. They feel endowed with magical insights because of the specialized vocabulary, because of the large concepts symbolized by the glyphs and aspects of astrology. They show off with the jargon … but really they are covering over their lack of human orientation.

**Time and time again, I hear astrologers talking jargon –sometimes rhapsodically developed, filled with esoteric humor and assumed significances—and they leave me in the dust at the dinner table or in the halls of a convention! What are they really saying? What good is it? --I NEVER talk astrology except as a professional teacher.

If we take away the jargon in our work with people, we have time and space within the consultation to say something important, memorable, helpful, wise, motivating.

Here’s how to break the jargon habit.

1. Record your consultations a few times. You will be shocked when you hear the first one; then you will be thrilled at the improvement you hear in the second one! Etc.

2. Listen to what you say: where are you going within the discussion? Are you speaking in human terms? Are you asking questions that are not answerable by “Yes” or “No” –Those Yes-No questions can easily stop the consultation dead cold and inhibit involvement from the client. Try writing down three key stimulating questions before the consultation; this will give you substance for conversation and security in delivery.

3. Are you falling over your own words, filling your sentences with “uhs and ers” –the devices of the unprepared! --This is just common sense here; being prepared and careful with your word choice is the sine qua non of being an astrologer. Clean up your delivery, your grammar, and your word choice. [Recommended reading: The Creative Astrologer]

4. Are you laughing falsely, giggling, to fill time and discharge your tension with the consultation process? --The consultation will certainly involve some natural nervousness on the part of your client, but YOUR nervousness can not be added to the pot, or everything will deteriorate. –Know the shortest, richest questions to ask about the configurations you have studied. Stimulate discussion; do not perform or entertain.

5. How well are you listening to your client? --Once you have stimulated the client into discussion, you must dissect every statement and registration of emotion in that discussion. This is the process that leads the consultation into therapeutic understanding and reward.

Correcting these situations is obvious. But note, I have not said in steps 1-5 “Eliminate the jargon.” It was implied. You know that doing items 1-5 is impossible if jargon is in the way.

And so is success with your client … if jargon is in the way.

Next Update: April 30, 2004


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