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Every business and industry has its own jargon, common shorthand or acronyms. Most jargon consists of terms that would be unfamiliar to outsiders. I get it – it’s nice to feel like you’re part of a tribe. You have an internal pride about having your own language. But you wouldn’t want to be the only one  who looks like a deer in the headlights and politely nods when there’s a RFD because the CTR for your website decreased and a QA test is required by EOD, am I right?.

It’s easy to fall into that trap of overusing slang at work, but eventually, you’ll find yourself talking to someone outside of your tribe. It’s easy to forget that communication is not about you – it’s about what the listener hears you say. So be advised that some people will understand what you mean, but the rest will tune out or be left scratching their heads. Be sensitive to your listener’s ability to understand your message. Using language that you’re familiar with, but that may be unfamilar to others can be a barrier to effective communication. Who needs or even wants a one directional conversation that leaves you confused and alienated?

Jargon common to all industries such as, “think outside the box” or a “win-win situation” are well known. What about some lesser known terms like “pivot” and phrases like “touch base” have worked their way into our daily conversations.

However, if overused, it can become a tired phrase or worse seem laced with ego when people use it to inflate the importance of what they are doing or trying to appear impressive.

Richard Branson, business mogul and founder of Virgin, said that one should, “use simple terms and commonplace words that everyone will understand, rather than showing off and annoying your audience.”

Acronyms can be more useful than not, once you have defined them. So unless your company provides an on-boarding acronym dictionary, try to explain an acronymn before using them.

Suzanne Bates, author of, Speak Like a CEO: Secrets for Commanding Attention and Getting Results, says the biggest mistake executives and professionals make is failing to ask themselves if what they’re saying is the best way to communicate to the audience that they’re targeting.

Managers, you need to set a good example! Make sure that you’re speaking and writing in ways that that not only explain things clearly, but also motivate people to get moving. Jargon and the use of acronyms have become ubiquitous today and, used sensibly, can be a quick and efficient way of communicating, but that doesn’t mean that it makes you look more professional. At the end of the day don’t take this off-line, know your audience.

Here are some resources for you