I have been many things in my life - from fruit-picker, through postman, delivery driver, barman, professional actor, Office Manager, Trainer, IT Learning Manager and latterly, Head of Technology Assisted Learning in a global corporate. Now an independent consultant, speaker, tweeter & blogger, I have learned, and now know, 'a little about a lot, and a lot about very little'. I hope this blog will be of interest and stimulate some further conversations amongst us all.
Friday, 29 June 2012
Quick ranty blog. This one has been bubbling in my Evernote 'Blog Ideas' file for a while now, just waiting for the motivation to develop and publish it. And this morning, I finally lost patience and have written this piece. What kicked it off? Another bloody Three Letter Acronym in my twitter stream, the meaning of which I do not know. Do I know what the miscreant is talking about? No, I don't. Can I be arsed looking it up? No, I can't. Do I feel excluded? Yes, I do.
I find the unthinking use of acronyms in meetings, discussions, Project Plans, Twitter, Blogs and the like disempowering, smug and elitist.
Yes, they have a place - in a closed, all-informed forum, where everyone in the loop knows the jargon. Outside of that, how dare you assume that I know what you're talking about, or that I will take time out of my busy day to look it up. IPOs,
APIs, SEOs, SEN, TED, REM, RAB - it doesn't matter how many times I look at these and
other three letter acronyms (or shall we just call them TLAs and have done with it?), I can
never remember what they mean. And why should I? Just 'cos you're too
lazy to write it out in full doesn't mean I should have to fill my
head up with even more jargon, which I may or may not need for weeks or
months later, if ever again. If your communication needs a Jargon/Acronym Buster appendix, it's safe to assume that I'm not necessarily the right audience for your message.
Look, I've been guilty of it myself. It's easy to slip into within any given culture. For instance, when I became the IT Training Manager for Sussex Police, I was immediately exposed to 'Acronym City' - IT and Police Jargon in one big melting pot! But I was in the club, and I soon picked it up, and dammit, I soon started using these self same acronyms myself. In FirstGroup, a UK public transport operator, we have all sorts of Bus and Rail-related acronyms, some of which still elude me even after seven years...! But these are internal discussions, where it behoves us to get to know the language of the business.
However, if we're communicating with an uninitiated or general audience, that's a different matter. Show some respect and consideration. Keep your TLAs to yourself and your buddies. Don't assume that the rest of us know what you're talking about. Because I/we probably don't; I/we might be too embarassed to ask, but more importantly, I/we resent the fact that you're too lazy/smug/insecure (delete as appropriate) to speak with clarity and include me/us in a meaningful conversation.