I looked at the notes for an upcoming meeting and saw one of the giveaways was AWWDQ. I attended a meeting at work and was told our newest product was the WIG for the next few months. A co-worker mentioned she had FOMO. In all of these instances, my mind quickly processed the thought, “What in the world are they talking about?” Are we giving away Dairy Queen ice cream? What am I supposed to do with the new WIG? Should I be concerned that I might be infected with FOMO?
I may not always be up on the latest acronyms, but if you’ve been leading in the same place for a few years, you’ve probably gotten accustomed to the language of your organization. If so, you might not recognize you need to be mindful of your language—especially to those who are new in your workplace or ministry.
I work in a plethora of acronyms. My denomination has a plethora of acronyms. People send me text messages in acronyms. We’ve become a culture of acronyms. As a leader, how can you watch your language? How can you help newcomers adapt to the language of your culture? Here are three things you can do to watch your language.
First, what acronyms do you use on a regular basis that are second nature to you? Be aware when you use them to make sure your listeners have a good understanding of what you are describing. I was thankful someone in my organization recognized my bewildered look when I kept hearing WIG—a popular acronym for “wildly important goal.” When I tried to look it up, I found it could also stand for “women in government” or “wing in ground.” Remember, acronyms can have multiple meanings depending on your context.
Second, if you are using acronyms because you don’t want to type out the entire phrase, be mindful if others are also looking at your shortcut. AWWDQ was the acronym for a book, and I’m not sure I would have ever figured it out if I hadn’t asked. If you are on the receiving end of hearing acronyms, simply ask! You might be a little humiliated, but asking questions will help you become more familiar with your organization.
Third, be mindful your listener may be from a different generation. While I don’t like to think of myself as “older,” I’m definitely not a young adult. I loved teaching students and young adults at church, because they helped me understand the language of their generation. I wasn’t afraid to ask them what acronyms meant because I knew they didn’t mind helping me learn. I’m also not afraid to quickly go to Google and search. While I quickly figured out that FOMO meant “fear of missing out” based on the conversation, there have been times when Google has been a good friend. Be a good friend to those who are a bit older and help them understand the language of your generation.
What is the language of your organization? Are you so familiar with terms that it becomes a learning block for new people? If you’re in ministry, watch the language of your church. Help new members understand things that have become commonplace. If you’re a leader in the marketplace, consider keeping a list of acronyms that are commonly used and provide them to new employees. Above all, don’t LOL (laugh out loud) when a new person asks questions! Most friends LYLAS (love you like a sister) so until then, I’ll BBS (be back soon).
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.