Business Acronyms – How to Avoid/Decode Them

12th November 2019Business Coaching

Business Acronyms

Business acronyms are everywhere

Are you ITK? Or could you do with a little help?

An exasperated Elon Musk famously wrote: 

“Acronyms Seriously Suck!”

Elon Musk


Because acronyms can be a barrier to effective communication.

If you are in the know (“ITK”), they can be useful shorthand, saving time in written and verbal communications.

But what if you are not in the know?

Then, you will be an outsider. You won’t know what this secret language means. You might feel alienated or annoyed. Or confused or stupid.

Obviously, none of us wants to feel left out or dumbfounded. Especially, not in business meetings where we are looking to contribute and make an impact.

Business acronyms confuse

Worse still, even if we think we understand an acronym, we may be totally mistaken. Some frequently used acronyms have two or more meanings. Moreover, these meanings could easily be interchanged in the same communication.

For example, what about “POC”? Does this mean “point of contact” or “proof of concept”?

So, let’s start taking more care over our communications.

Wherever possible, let’s use simple terms and common words that everyone can understand. And only use acronyms when we are absolutely sure that our audience understands them and there is no ambiguity.

Sadly, there are many people that love to show-off their knowledge of acronyms. Some clever souls are even inventing new ones!

Business acronym decoder

In an attempt to help the uninitiated, I’ve created a business acronym decoder.

You can download it here or from the resources page where you’ll also find other free checklists and help guides.

If I’ve missed off some of your favourite acronyms, please let me know. In the interests of clear communications, I’ll be very happy to add them.

What’s your view on business acronyms?

Are you with Richard Branson who wrote on LinkedIn that business acronyms:

“Slow things down, confuse people, and cause them to lose interest”

Richard Branson

Or, do you believe that knowing and using business acronyms is a valuable hack.

A time-saver that avoids us having to say long phrases like “performance and development review” or “application program interface” when PDR or API are so much easier to use?

If you enjoyed this article on business communication, please read “Why We Brits Must Learn to Speak International Business English”