Updated: Jul 26
I recently had AC mini-splits put into my 80-year-old New England home. I have solar panels and the ultimate goal is to use very little oil in the coming years because the units will not only keep me cool on the hot and humid days, but keep me warm on the average cold days.
Anyway, my friend Ryan, a master electrician and carpenter, was working on the installation in my bedroom and ran down the stairs and said: “We may have just gotten lucky. Come look!”
It turned out, there was a way to string the freon line from my bedroom straight to the basement and that meant it could go out the crawl space directly to the compressor. No drilling out just below the roof and stringing the line down and around the corner to the side of the house. It made Ryan’s job a LOT easier and the look of the whole thing neater. “Let me double check,” he said. “But if I’m right and there is a chase – things will go much easier.”
What’s a ‘chase*?’ I asked.
This wasn’t the first time that day that I had to ask him to clarify. But jargon is jargon, no matter what the industry.
I recently told a client for whom I create and deliver facilitations, about a complex situation in an e-learning training module I had designed for Fortune 100 company.
“We had a variable that counted to three because we didn’t expect anyone to click more than the number of times, we needed them to click - which was three! So, when the e-learning module I designed didn’t work, we initially didn’t flag that as a problem. It turned out people clicked many more times than expected for some unknown reason, and the variable failed to trigger properly.”
“I have no idea what you just said,” she replied.
Alan Alda talks about this all the time when he discusses the work he did with scientists many years ago on the PBS show, Scientific American. He would have to ask question after question to get the scientist to simplify their explanation to the point at which it made sense to him. A fascination with science, but not a scientist, Alda knew that taking the time to do so would ensure that the topic made sense to the average viewing audience.
In his book “If I Understood You, Would I Have this Look on My Face?” he reminds himself that people often think they know things about making movies because they watch them all of the time. But if the average person were to walk on to a movie set, would they know what a Grip is? Do you? Do you know what a Boom Operator is? What about a Gaffer or a Foley Artist? You have probably read these names on the credits, but what are do they actually do? **
Every industry has its terminology or jargon. But when you are working with clients, taking the moment to explain is imperative. Not because you are dumbing something down for them, or because the person you are speaking to is not smart enough – but if it is not their area of expertise, how would they know?
Ryan is a master craftsman in the truest sense of the word. He knows houses and the engineering and functionality that makes them safe. Most of us? We just live in them and call them home.
*Chase – vertical space in a wall which provides an area for pipes, cables and wires to run through.
**Grip - The person who sets up and moves various pieces of equipment such as, mechanical props and camera cranes.
Boom Operator – The person who operates any mechanical arm - such as a crane or jib which has a camera on it.
Gaffer – The head electrician on the set. It could be said that Ryan has been the Gaffer at my home.
Foley Artist – You might not actually meet this person on the set.They work in after filming (post-production) to add sounds, such as footsteps, punches, Dinosaur growls to synchronize with the finished product.