Language at work - jargon

Language is the tool of communication and work has its own special communication and language. All companies use jargon to a greater or less extent. At first it will be confusing to the new starter, but you will gradually pick it up.

Don’t be too surprised if you don’t understand what people are saying to each other. There will be special words that have a meaning only inside that workplace. These words are called jargon. Often they are just shorthand ways of saying things that are often repeated at that workplace.

The important thing to remember is always to ASK. The longer you are at a job, the more you are expected to know the jargon. So make the most of your early time to ask for clarification about jargon.

Language at work – tact

Often new starters have a difficulty in expressing themselves tactfully, or in understanding what is being said in a tactful way.

For example, if your boss says “Would you mind picking up the company mail tomorrow?” he is not really asking you, he is telling you.

Likewise if a boss says “I’d prefer that you did it this way” he is really instructing you to do it that way, no argument.

Also, some bosses can be very tactful when talking about your performance. For example if a boss says “I am disappointed” then that can be code for “You have really messed up here, but I forgive you because you are a new starter”, and if a boss says “I am concerned about your behaviour” then that can be code for “keep going like that and you’ll be out the door”. This is especially true in
office environments.

In other workspaces, such as workshops or garages, the jargon still exists, but the boss’s language and phrasing is likely to be plain