One of the challenges of working at United Way is that you will probably catch jargonitis. We have our own special vocabulary of words and phrases that make perfect sense to us, but are more effective than a secret code when we use those words and phrases outside the office. The three sentences in the cartoon are from the "What We Do" page of a United Way Web site. Someone in the office at that United Way clearly came down with a bad case of jargonitis, and it spread to their Web site.

Many times the symptoms of jargonitis are more subtle, a word here or a word there. They haven't invented a jargonitis shot to make yourself immune yet, so you need to be careful not to inadvertantly expose yourself to jargonitis. If you use Microsoft Word, here is an idea to try. The AutoCorrect funtion of Microsoft Word will allow you to add words or phrases to search for, and then specify what text to use to replace those words or phrases. You can add "community impact" to the AutoCorrect list and then tell Microsoft Word to replace "community impact" with "mobilizing our community to create lasting community changes that will improve lives" or whatever wording you prefer. At a minimum, you might want to use the AutoCorrect function in Microsoft Word to flag jargon you commonly use with text like "Do I really NEED to use this word?" If you have never customized AutoCorrect in Microsoft Word before, search for "AutoCorrect" in Microsoft Word help.

A special thanks to Hannah on our staff for cartooning this for us. Let me know if you have another cure for jargonitis - working together we can stop jargonitis!