A few years ago, a friend, who was a successful insurance agent, invited me to attend a high-end luncheon. The hotel ballroom was filled with a few hundred insurance agents from around the region. After lunch was served, a prominent leader in the insurance industry spoke, joking about “claimants,” “negligence,” and “aggregate limits of indemnity.” While the other agents laughed, nodding in agreement with the speaker’s comments, I fidgeted in my seat. I appreciated my friend’s invitation and ticket to the lunch, but I left feeling unintelligent and confused.
Every group, if it’s together long enough, develops insider language. The luncheon I attended used insider language targeted to their specific industry. They didn’t use it to be exclusionary; they employed it for the sake of identity, clarity, and efficiency. But I realized—in maybe the clearest manner in my life—what happens in the hearts and minds of visitors and ...1