Neurodiversity and Workplace Jargon

April 26, 2021 - Adjust

Much of the workplace jargon we use on a daily basis can be inaccessible to large amounts of your workforce. In this post Marianne Eloise  explains why this could be especially true for your neurodiverse employees and helpfully decodes what some of the most common phrases really mean!

Corporate buzzwords have been a much-derided aspect of any workplace for years, but they don’t seem to be going anywhere. As many of us shifted to homeworking, those of us who hate (or plain don’t understand) workplace jargon hoped that it might die out – but, seemingly, it’s only gotten worse. The real mystery seems to be who is actually using and promoting the use of these phrases – after all, if everyone hates it, why are we still doing it?

Nobody loves to unpick what phrases like “touch base” and “lean in” mean, but after enough time most of us can just about figure it out (and maybe start using some of it against our will). However, for neurodiverse people who may struggle with non-literal language, navigating this type of terminology can be even harder. Many of us may even worry when we don’t understand immediately, panicking that we’re in trouble or don’t fit in.

While, in a dream world, everyone would just drop jargon altogether, that outcome is looking unlikely. For now, we’ve rounded up 7 of the worst phrases that are still in place in a Working from home (WFH) world and decoded what they mean:

1.Hop on (a call, Zoom, Google Hangout, etc)

As is always the case with these buzzwords, the translation is super simple. If you get asked to “hop on” a call or Zoom, they’re just trying to make having a phone or video catch-up seem less boring.

2. Stick a pin in it

This one might be a little more confusing – it literally just means to put something on hold, to pause what you are working on. You don’t need to forget whatever it is entirely, so maybe make a note to return to the project or thought later. That pin is removable at any time, as far as your boss is concerned.

3. Touch base

Touching base is borrowed from US baseball lingo, so it can be less easy to understand here in th UK, but it essentially just means to catch up about where you’re at with something. Sometimes the person saying it wants to make sure you both have the same ideas and aims with a project, and it rarely means you’re in trouble.

4. E-meet you

Nobody knows how to handle being introduced to someone for the first time over email rather than in person, and apparently this is the best way we’ve come up with. To e-meet is simply to meet, but like, electronically.

5. Unpack

To unpack something has nothing to do with suitcases. Instead, it just means taking an idea or concept and fully explaining and exploring it, looking at every angle in detail.

6. Ping

Again, just a fun way to talk about keeping in touch. If someone wants you to ping them an email or message, it isn’t any different to just sending it. They’re just trying to make it seem less boring.

7. Circle back

This usually means that someone doesn’t have enough time to deal with something properly with you right now, so they want to come back to the conversation at a later date. Again, don’t forget it entirely.

Thanks to Marianne Eloise for explaining why workplace jargon can be inaccessible for neurodiverse employees and helpfully decoding the phrases above.

To have a truly neuro-inclusive workplace consider the language you are using. We can all fall into workplace jargon but be prepared to explain what you mean without judgement.

At Adjust we specialise in starting the neurodiversity conversation in the workplace. Contact us to start yours today.