Argot, colloquialism, lexicon, palaver, rigmarole, vernacular. What do all these words have in common? They are specialized language about… specialized language.
Today, everyone’s workplace has smatterings of acronyms, initialisms and other terms that you and I as outsiders would have no idea about. When I first came to Seilevel and started working as a business analyst, I had no idea what this nonsense about. (BDDs) Business Data Diagrams, (BRDs) Business Requirement Diagrams, (SRS’s) Software Requirements Specifications Data, (DFDs) Flow Diagrams, are a few examples.
Then if you throw in words like elicitation, facilitation, I was overwhelmed and ready to shout some 4 letter words. I would imagine that everyone has a similar experience when they begin a new job or project. I’m here to offer some thoughts on how to smooth this process over and get you speaking jargonese in no time. Here are my top 2 tips:
- Ask Questions No matter what field you work in, there is always going to be a time when someone uses a term that you have no idea what it means. Much like in a Business Analyst’s day-to-day job, your best course of action is to simply ask what the term means. Not only do you learn something new, but you have the advantage of learning more about the business which will help get you accustomed to the work environment. I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked a subject matter expert to define a term in one meeting only to end up using the same term in another meeting. As a Business Analyst, this commitment to learning the business makes it much easier to work with subject matter experts.
- Read Everything Chances are your new work environment, be it a new job or project, has quite a bit of different things to read. There’s your standard set of documentation every company has, but then there are more subtle things like papers posted on the wall for everyone to see or marketing materials. By taking a few minutes to read over these things, you will often find several new terms and what they mean. Other times you will find new terms that you need to have defined; this will lead to more situations as described above. Another option is to search for the term on the internet – the fact that “googling” is a verb speaks to how often this scenario is encountered.
No matter what word is used to identify it, jargon can be a confusing and overwhelming thing to deal with. By taking time and effort, one can use these skills to turn the daunting task of overcoming jargon into an asset in your day-to-day work with others in the business.