What the H$#@ is an SEO?

So, I got this text from my buddy Jason the other day.



Before we go on, let me give you some context.


Jason and I have had many conversations about how acronyms make communication difficult in organizations.  We’ve watched new employees scramble to learn company acronyms.  We’ve observed managers who’ve used abbreviations so often they have forgotten what they stand for.  And, we’ve seen leaders embarrassed to admit they don’t know an acronym’ s meaning, so they’re googling it in the bathroom.


I thought he was giving me another acronym to add to my list.


So, I responded with…


Then Jason said;


I thought “No problem! I’ll tell ya what it means. “


And I said…

I mean, I was kinda proud of myself. Not too shabby of an explanation, was it?


I thoroughly explained what SEO meant, right?




Jason fired back…


Oh geez...

I assumed he was asking me what SEO meant, not what it stood for.


(What? You’ve never assumed something when reading a text?)


He asked me three times before we finally got here…



This exchange was hysterical to us, but what happens if you’re one of the folks I mentioned when I gave you context?


What would it be like for someone who;

-is new on the job, trying to figure things out and make a good impression?

-has been on the job a long time, uses acronyms so much they’ve forgotten what they mean and are embarrassed to ask?

-is a leader in an organization and has to admit they don’t know?


Do you think they would’ve asked three times before they gave up and moved on? 


You might say “It was a miscommunication over text; easy enough to do.” And you’d be right about that. Texting is rough.


However, I have no doubt there are people in the corporate world who are struggling with their organization’s acronyms.  They’re moving on well before getting to the “Holy H$#@” moment that Jason did and they’re feeling frustrated or embarrassed in the process.


They don’t need to.  We can do better.  There’s a simple fix.


Start with what the letters stand for.


Like this “Oh hey Jason, SEO is Search Engine Optimization, it means…” 

It takes almost no extra time to say, and it would’ve spared Jason a lot of frustration.

How clear and effective would our communication be if we did this?

Here’s your challenge for today; the next time you find yourself using an acronym, take the extra few seconds to explain what it stands for, even if you think everyone in the room knows what it means.

I guarantee you someone will appreciate it.


I’m wondering about your experience with acronyms, love ’em? Hate ’em?  Drop your thoughts in comments below and let’s keep the conversation going!



A huge shout out to my friend Jason for allowing me to use our conversation for this post.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out his stuff, do it NOW! Connect with him here  LinkedIn and learn how you can work with him at http://www.firestarterstribe.com



2 replies
  1. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Love this! Spot On. I can’t understand most of what my FranklinCovey participants say in the first hour and then I start making fun of them and filling out what I call my “secret decoder ring” until they start to realize how dumb it really is. Then I tell them my friend Alex would not stand for it!


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