I have a friend that assumes I know everyone she knows. Whenever we talk I feel like I'm entering midway in a conversation. I love her, but it is confusing. Often I end up feeling a bit lost and out of the loop.
I've got news you, you are probably doing the same thing.
Do you speak in acronyms? Do you use industry jargon? Do you call something one thing in written communications and use a nickname for it in conversation or online?
When we are busy with work and life it is easy to take shortcuts when we communicate. A shortcut taken in your own personal notes suddenly creeps into your emails and conversation. Conversation cements the shortcut and the new term finds its way into a report.
I want to suggest that you to take some time to think about what you are doing.
Acronyms, industry jargon and vague titles are only meaningful to those in your inner circle that share your specific knowledge base. When you use these shortcuts in speaking with someone outside of your inner circle you have just told that person that they are not worthy of communicating with and therefore not important to you.
I find this is especially true in clubs, non-profit boards, teams and other similar organizations. Using jargon and acronyms is kind of like having the team t-shirt. It shows you are an insider. You are part of the in crowd. Sometimes it can literally take years for a new member to have the most basic functioning of an organization.
At the same time I've never been part of an organization that didn't want more members, more volunteers and more leaders. Every board I've been on is actively looking at all times. So why do we turn around and casually exclude people who come to us wanting to participate?
The good news is that really subtle changes in language and actions can counter this. To long term group members, using complete and accurate names for programs and groups and reiterating descriptions may feel stodgy and formal. However, those accurate names and descriptions keep everyone on the same page. It reinforces bonds with old members and it welcomes new members and visitors. Introducing yourself every time, even if you speak at every meeting, makes you approachable. Explaining programs and protocol every meeting may feel a bit wasteful but it keeps members that don't attend regularly informed.
I know I'm guilty of it. I try to speak plainly. Every project is a journey. And the nature of design is that I've always got a partner on that journey. Excluding them is the last thing I want to do.