Rule #6: Take that step, even if it’s a tiptoe.


I love working at a college. I love the excitement of young and old minds learning, achieving and expanding. And, if it ever gets boring, just wait, in 4-5-6-okay maybe even 7 or 3.5 (I don’t understand those overachieving students) new blood will come along to pump excitement and new ideas back into these brick and cinder walls. There is such a diversity of thought running amuck at the university it is scary and refreshing at the same time. I LOVE IT! Sometimes though, what I don’t understand is university-speak.

Take pedagogy. Try saying that fast – 5 times. I can’t even say it slow, once. What does it mean? I can tell you want it doesn’t, and that’s “pet the doggy.” Just say “education, teaching or even learning.” How about Creative Non-Fiction in a Digital Environment? Yes, I should have known  ̶  it means blogging. I didn’t think that class through when I signed up for it. I thought to myself, “YES, I would love to read creative non-fiction and discuss it. After all, I’m all about reading, okay, probably more collecting books.” Not the same. So, I find myself in blogging class trying to patch it all together and sound halfway sane.

Here’s one, “peer reviewed.” It doesn’t mean to have your friends look at it to make sure you’re not crazy. It means you get published and other people with degrees comment or use it in their research. Pretty exciting stuff. Who is the head of the department? Is it the dean, the chair or the director? I still can’t tell you which is higher magna cum laude or summa cum laude – but I know it’s not a type of wrestling. It means you are pretty darn smart. There is another laude in there, but oh laude, if I can remember what it is. That’s college humor. Finally, have you heard of a “rhetorical tetrahedron”? You may think it’s like the Bermuda triangle where words go to die. But it’s not. It’s where words go to live.

It is a perfect example of that thing where each workplace has its own language. Trust me. I’ve worked in several different workplaces, so I know. Where when you are a newbie; you don’t quite understand what everyone is saying? But you play along anyway to make it look like you know. Again, fake it until you make it. Each workplace has its own lingo. It’s part of what they call “workplace culture.” Words like “synergy,” “SWOT goals” (Google it) or “nonverbal” are all perfect examples. “Nonverbals” was a fun one that I used to torment Sam. “You’re verbals are saying yes, but you’re nonverbals are saying no don’t buy that purse. I’ll stick with your verbals on this one.”

The list of workplace words could go on and on. I’m sure if I asked you, you could come up with some unique words that when you started work, you had no idea what everyone was talking about but after a year or so, you got the hang of it and were even speaking it yourself. No matter what the work speak, each workplace has its own. The trick is to figure it out without looking silly or dumb in the process.


tryTrying something new can be frightening and comes with scary things. Like words that I’m not sure what the heck they mean. Sometimes that frightening stuff can even keep us from trying something new. Like, would I have taken creative non-fiction in a digital environment if I knew it stood for blogging? Maybe or maybe not. But, I’m glad I didn’t know and yet, I’m glad I took the class and even passed.  Don’t let scary stuff keep you from trying new things. Embrace them and your ability to learn. Face your fears head on and take that class, start a second degree, paint that picture, remodel that kitchen, climb that mountain, and accomplish your goals. In the end, you’ll be glad that you did.


This summer, I signed up for Digital Rhetoric. The study of memes – am I right? I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out. Wish me luck!


Now it’s your turn. What are some words or catchphrases often spoken at your workplace that originally you had no idea what they meant, but now you find yourself saying them like a pro? Don’t be shy. Share them in a comment!