September 22, 2020

Does that really need to be reduced to an acronym?


I have seen some acronyms lately that don’t need to be abbreviated. I know acronyms are often used for efficiency but let’s not kid ourselves. They are typically efficient for the person speaking or writing them, not so for the listener or reader who has to interpret the acronym used.

The Consequences

Besides the potential annoyance and waste of time it causes for the receiver, there are also other consequences such as miscommunication. When you say SME are your referring to Subject Matter Expert or Small to Medium Enterprise. When you say FFS are you referring to the remote working option of Flexibility For Some or For F#@ks Sake. The latter being my reaction when I realised Flexibility For Some had been reduced to FFS.

Acronyms Can Dehumanise

By far the most disturbing consequence I notice is how the use of acronyms can dehumanise the content. For example, when we refer to Domestic Violence as DV or Female Genital Mutilation as FGM. If we are discussing something as serious as domestic violence and female genital mutilation, let’s not reduce the impact that those terms have by condensing them to an acronym.

When it comes to using acronyms ask yourself, ‘Should I use them just because I can?’ as well as ‘Who is it helping?’