I was in a meeting with another lawyer and a non-lawyer and during the meeting the other lawyer used the term “specials” 10 or so times. When the other lawyer left the room, the non-lawyer turned to me, and said what the heck is specials?
So, what are specials?
I looked at the guy and said to myself, man are we lawyers out of touch. We have our own language and abbreviations and we think everybody knows them.
I apologized and said “specials” are short for “special damages” and special damages are specific, tangible numbers or losses that a person can claim in a lawsuit. For instance, in an accident case, special damages can include medical bills, hospital bills and lost.
What transpired is frequent, we see it in healthcare all the time. Doctors will be talking lap this and lap that and a patient is thinking that they are going to run laps, when in reality they are talking about laparoscopic procedures.
My best advice is that if you are talking to a person who keeps on using a term that you don't understand, ask them. The other person will not think you are stupid for asking, the exact opposite is true, the other person will realize that he/she is not communicating properly, and once you understand the term or the concept, the interaction will be so much more fruitful.
Have you ever found yourself in a position where you are using a “term of art” that you use all the time and the other person didn't understand what you are saying?
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