What’s your secret code?
When I looked up “ATM” in The Free Dictionary online, there were 136 definitions of the acronym. For example, I could tell a friend I would cash a check at the bank, and they might assume I was doing my banking at the movies (ATM.) Acronyms are a big part of how organizations abbreviate often-used words or phrases. Every organization seems to have its own, and in giant corporations, the same acronym may mean two or three different things.
Acronyms are part of what we call jargon– the specialized language of an organization. Engineers have engineering jargon. Researchers have research jargon. Finance has financial jargon. Our team has Vocal Impact jargon. It’s like we are in a club with a secret language. And while specialized vocabulary may make communication easier and even more fun within the club, others may feel excluded because they don’t understand.
When we spend most of our time communicating within our “club,” we may not even realize we are using jargon. We may also assume that people in a similar “club” use the same terminology. For example, engineering has many specialties, each with its jargon. When we reach beyond our immediate organization, even if they report to the same leader, especially in a completely different part of the organization (business execs versus technologists), it is crucial to choose words carefully. That way, we won’t alienate other people (AOP) accidentally on purpose (AOP) or lose them to daydreaming about the annual operating plan (AOP.)
For more on how to overcome speaking differences, please read You Talk Funny…And So Do I.
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