Why Do Tech Guys Use Big Words?

If you’re not technical, talking to a tech person can sometimes make you feel stupid. The truth is, some tech people just don’t know how to speak any other way. Just like a French person will automatically speak French without thinking, a tech person talks in their own unique language, using lots of words that non-tech people don’t understand. 

Non-tech people are sometimes afraid to ask because they feel like they should know.

But… would you feel the same if someone came up to you and started speaking French? Or Japanese? No, you wouldn’t feel stupid. You’d be like… Hey sorry dude I don’t speak your language. Do you speak English?

Next time a tech person starts using techy language, try this: Say “Hey sorry dude I don’t speak your language. Do you speak English?” 🤣

Now, I know not all tech people are like this, but in my experience (30+ years) it’s the majority. And honestly I find it pretty annoying. 

Tech is not supposed to be hard. 

In fact it gets easier all the time. Software companies across the planet are working really hard to make their products as easy as possible for non-tech people to use. Yes, it’s a thing.

Remember the stories about people who couldn’t learn how to use a VCR? Well we’re kind of like in that same place but with software now. Sort of. 

Don’t be one of those people. Really, it’s not that hard.

But I digress. Back to the tech people.

So, yeah, tech people use “techy” language all the time. I do this myself when I’m around other tech people. We all know what we are saying. But when I’m with my non-tech business partners I completely change the way I talk. Think about the way you talk with your kids vs your Mom vs your besties. Totally different, am I right?!?

It baffles me why tech people talk in their techy jargon to people who don’t have tech backgrounds. Do they really think their message is going to connect with the person? I think they just don’t realize it.  One of my favorite sayings is: it’s hard to know what it’s like to not know what you know. Fortunately I’ve trained myself over my entire career how to put myself in that place of not knowing all the things I know about tech. It definitely didn’t happen overnight!

Yes, there are SOME tech people who use techy talk intentionally to make people feel stupid. They think it will help them get the business if they confuse the person so they’ll think they need to hire someone to do the tech for them. 

Seriously, I’m not making this up. I actually heard someone say this out loud: “Just say techy things to them and they’ll think you’re smart and hire you.” Yes, there are people like this. 

People who use big words to make you feel dumb are pretty dumb themselves.

Well I’ve got your back. Here’s a really easy way to find out if the person you’re talking to is one of “them.”

If someone says something you don’t understand, ask them to explain it. If they say more things you don’t understand, just keep asking questions until they can explain it to you in plain English.

If you get a true professional who really wants to help you, they’ll grab a piece of paper and a pen and start drawing it out for you. They will patiently explain everything until you are satisfied.

They will never say “Oh don’t worry about how it works, I’ll handle everything for you.”


If they do, I want you to promise me you will run away.

As a technologist in both big and small companies, I learned a long time ago how to translate technical language into something people on the business side of the house could understand. There were a bunch of programmers in cubicles over on one side of the office, and there were a bunch of business people in offices over on the other side, and each group had no idea what the other did. It was like there was this big gaping hole in the middle. My job was to fill the hole and get these people talking to each other so the business could make better decisions and the programmers could build better software. 

This ability to “translate” was a skill I became known for and I honed that skill because it helped me in my career and my business.

So when you’re getting frustrated by techy people talking “above your head” it’s not that they are smarter than you (although they may think so). 

It’s that they don’t know how to speak your language. So give them a chance, and maybe you’ll both learn something.

Have you ever said “I’m not techy” or “I just don’t get tech?” What is it about tech that makes you say that? I’d love to try to explain it to you. Put it in the comments below or post it in the Tame Your Tech facebook group and I’ll be happy to answer it or point you to a good resource.

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