A Shared Language

When thinking of team language, a common example is acronyms.

As an acronym hater, this is not what I will be writing about.

Something fundamental to great teams is shared words. (A team lexicon)

Things do not exist if we have not given them names.

If you want to describe a process that involves sprints of work, planning, and daily team meetups, you need to describe it with many words. It’s not a easily shared concept.

Or if your team has a shared lexicon, you can say ‘Scrum.’

If you and your significant other are fighting, it’s difficult to define the fight. If you create a word (on the spot) to define a problem, it’s now something that exists and can be defeated. Otherwise, it’s a murky concept. The problem has not been defined.

In short, it’s the difference between:

🙎🏼‍♂️: ‘We are veering off course and this isn’t the objective.’


🙍🏽‍♀️: ‘That isn’t really related’


🙎🏻‍♀️: ‘We’re in the weeds’


👨‍⚕️: This is spin.

Something you can do today:

Create a shared team document for any phrases or words your team uses throughout the day.

Updated 14 January 2022 - Helps for this to be previously used common language as well, we’re starting to incorporate Twitch emotes into our daily talks. (LulChamp or Kappa can mean a lot more than full sentences. Humour and sarcasm = team bonding.)

If you want to steer your team in a new direction, work together to create single words for concepts. It’s your language to customize.

It’s best to give this task to a new hire, since they have the best perspective on the language your team uses.

You can also add these words to your onboarding document, just make sure it isn’t boring.