It's your first day at your new job, and a colleague tells you the EVP wants you to bring her the latest RFPs for signature, stat. If you don't know that means the executive vice president wants you to bring her request for proposal copies quickly, it means you need to learn the office lingo.
Learning the lingo and terminology in a new office environment will help you acclimate quickly and become better able to perform your job duties. Existing staffers already have a shorthand style of communicating with one another, and the quicker you learn it and use it, the faster you can integrate yourself into the system. Not knowing basic terminology and acronyms puts you at risk of making mistakes and misunderstanding directives.
Communicate With Customers
When you communicate with customers, clients and prospects, you need to know how to speak their language. Terminology varies from one industry to another, so in addition to basic business terms, you should learn the lingo and slang specific to your industry. For example, in real estate, comparative pricing of similar properties is known as a “comp,” though in the hospitality business, a “comp” refers to a complementary item, like a free drink or meal. Strive to understand not only the verbiage, but the context in which it is used.
How to Learn Lingo
Educate yourself on business and industry terms before you start a job by conducting an Internet search for terms associated with your line of work. Ask, during orientation or initial job training, about the most common acronyms, terms and lingo that are used in your business, in your office or as they relate to your job. When you hear something unfamiliar, ask about it the first time. Say, “Just to verify, can you tell me what that means?” Even if it feels uncomfortable that you don't know the lingo right off the bat, it's better than guessing what the other person is saying and being wrong.
Learning office lingo is just one element of getting yourself accustomed to your new corporate culture. Every business has its own identity that includes not only terminology, but dress code, commonly accepted practices, attitudes and behaviors. Be observant about the way your colleagues address one another, communicate and act. This will help you fit into your new environment quickly and seamlessly.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.