Only If

This week’s oft-confused terms (margin and markup) give me my rant du jour. Do such silly little differences as whether something is calculated as a percentage of selling price or of cost really matter?

Only if your continued employment depends on achieving a certain profitability for company owners.

Only if you’re trying to communicate clearly with executives.

Only if you’re trying to understand important nuances.

Only if you’re trying to respect domain expertise.

Proposals often see us working with people we know not much in areas we know not at all. A good place to start is by learning the basic jargon. Or at least not being impatient of nuances that seem inconsequential to us, whether those nuances are grammatical, technical, managerial, or financial.

Ask, listen, and learn.

 

2 Comments

  1. Jim Taylor

    I disagree with you, only in the sense that your comments IMPLY a need to get definitions right. I contend, rather, that it’s essential to LISTEN, to discern what the word-user means by that word. Few words, after all, have only a single unequivocal definition — “sanction” for example having two contradictory definitions. I have readers whose thinking is based entirely on definitions, which are, by definition, unchangeable and unchallengeable. My advice would be not to take any definitions at face value.
    JIm T

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim – I don’t think we disagree. (Although it depends how you define it, hahaha.) My point is only that each discipline has its own jargon that makes distinctions that matter, but that non-adepts may both miss and dismiss. So, on proposals, we generalists need to listen to the specialists to be sure we understand how they’re using words, and not get snippy when they correct us.

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