#8 The Official Petition to Ban Acronyms

TOP BA = The Official Petition to Ban Acronyms OR Top BADASS

I recently noticed that, when speaking to my friends about their work lives, they tend to use acronyms describing some of their tasks. A lawyer might say, "I submitted an RTA today". As a non-lawyer, I think to myself, "Wow. You must be doing very important things l if you are throwing around terms like that." The reality is, as I sit there and nod my head I am more confused than ever. Why would my lawyer friend think that I know what an RTA is? I have never stepped foot inside a courtroom, let alone sued anyone. For the record (pun intended), it stands for Request to admit. But don't ask me to explain what it means.

I noticed that even within the workplace most individuals can't explain the meaning of the acronyms they are using. In fact, we use them so often in our day-to-day that we often find ourselves using them in our personal lives (see example above), completely forgetting that people new to or outside of our industries have no clue what those (typically) three little letters even mean. One of the most important things I tell my employees is to never assume that the individual with whom you are speaking knows what the acronym you are using stands for. Let me give you another example...

I used to sit in an engineering board meeting where we discussed product changes and issues with 60+ individuals. More often than not the team would share presentations with multiple acronyms incorporated throughout the slides. There were a few acronyms that kept coming up so I asked one of my colleagues what they meant. He had no clue. I asked a few more people. Then I raised my hand. If you can believe it, the person presenting had absolutely no idea what those acronyms stood for but only a general idea of what they meant. You can imagine how that came across in a meeting with that many people.

The lesson here:

1. Never use acronyms/terms if you don't know what they mean.

2. If you are going to use them in a presentation make sure they are spelled out on the slide the first time you do use them. Example: Master of Business Administration (MBA)

3. Always know what you are presenting and what you are trying to say so that you come across as competent.

4. Rock the presentation!

I am now starting a petition to ban acronyms from our personal and our professional lives until people learn how and when they are appropriate to use ;). While you may think you sound more knowledgeable throwing industry-specific terms around in your everyday life, it doesn't do you any good if the person you are talking to thinks you are speaking Chinese (when, in fact, you are speaking English). Do yourself and your audience a favor and be a BA (Badass) by always knowing what you are talking about, because maybe then others might also have a clue. If you do know what you are talking about, then take a step back and ensure your audience does as well.