This compilation is from The Success Manual, the popular compilation of advice on 25 essential business skills and career skills. You can also download an updated list of these popular acronyms as a free pdf guide.
Not all acronyms are bad. Here's a nifty set of 100+ acronyms arranged across 10+ categories: Selling, Creativity, Self Improvement, Writing (our favorite), and others.
Selling and Negotiation:
Show, Explain, Lead to benefits, Let them talk
Always Be Closing.
The need to be continually moving the customer towards action and agreement within sales discussions
Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
This is the basis of all business-advertising.
Assessment, Discovery, Activation, Projection, Transition
Confusion, Humor and Request
Features, Attributes (or Advantages), Benefits
Listen, Acknowledge, Identify objection, Reverse it
Listen, Observe, Combine, Ask, Talk, Empathize
Say Only Nice Things To All People.
Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff
One of the most enduring selling acronyms.
Used often during negotiations:
Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement
Attentive, Peripheral, Empathic
The three main types of listening. Empathic listening is the skill of understanding meaning and motive in another's words, a considerably powerful ability.
Always Listen First.
Obviously great for communication training sessions generally, also counseling, customer service, selling, etc, and relationships overall.
For asking great questions:
Excuses that you use:
Different ways to say “No”:
Pauses or non verbal signals
Save it for later
A method to resolve conflict:
Back Up Plan.
Defusing their anger
Reframing position into interests
Letting them choose their fate
Technique for responding to complaints:
Ask a question
In My Humble Opinion. Often used in web-messaging, emails and texting. Also a reminder to be humble in all communications.
This is useful for customer service and other problem-solving communications.
Listen, Empathies, Ask (:ask open questions - what, how, etc), Resolve (Consider the value of the customer and not the cost of resolving this particular issue)
Listen, Empathize, De-personalize, Offer.
Used for customer service, conciliation or conflict resolution: listen to the complaint, empathize with the customer, de-personalize the situation (both of you stand back and look at it objectively), and then offer a solution.
Tell me, Explain to me, Describe to me…
Open questions typically begin with what, how, which, when, who, why.
Closed questions, which generally prompt yes or no answers, typically begin with phrases such as: Is it..?, Do you..?, Have you..?, Are they..?, etc., and are used for filtering (determining the relevance or usefulness of data).and for closing (for example, 'Would you like to go ahead...?') and for gaining commitment ('Do you the xyz aspect...?') and for clarification ('Do you mean in the next week or the next month...?).
What's In It For Me?
The essential element of all successful communications and organizational initiatives, and the principle of persuasion and influence. If there's nothing in it for the other person, they may hear but they won't really listen, and without the WIIFM factor they'll never commit to action.
Big Hairy-Assed Goal
Sophisticated Wild Ass Guess
A very popular project management methodology:
Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation
Behavior, Effect, Expectation, Results
It helps you assess performance of anything, particularly a new initiative.
Beliefs, Evidence, Needs, Desires, Wounds, Interests, Mentors, Proud of
A model, typically used as a table or template or matrix for identifying motivations and issues of stakeholders within a project plan.
Background, Objectives, Scope, Constraints, Assumptions, Reporting, Dependencies, Estimates, Timescales
Very useful acronym for inception of projects, committees, investigations (inquiries), studies, reports, etc, where purpose, parameters and ground-rules etc., have to be established.
Teaching and Training:
The problem with most learning:
Dull, Unrealistic, Mediocre, Boring, Evaporating, Rote
Break It Down.
When training anything to anybody never teach the whole thing all at once. Break the skill or process down to digestible parts. This will avoid destroying confidence, and enable gradual progress to the point that the whole thing can be practiced.
Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, Practice.
A simple teaching and learning model.
Balanced, Observed, Objective, Specific, Timely, Enhancing, Relevant.
Useful acronym for coaching and giving feedback to people. If anyone knows the origins please tell me.
Subject, Target, Emotion, Perception, Plan, Pace, Adapt/Act. The STEPPPA acronym represents a coaching model devised and advocated by expert coach Angus McLeod. T he STEPPPA process entails:
Subject - validate the subject (the issue or matter) for the person being coached (coachee).
Target - validate or help to establish the specific target (or goal) of the coachee - called target identification.
Emotion - ensure emotion is addressed and resolved relating to the coachee, the issue, and the target, which if appropriate should be re-evaluated.
Perception - widen the perception and choice in the mind of the coachee.
Plan - help the coachee establish a clear plan (process with steps, not choices).
Pace - include pace (timescale and milestones) in the plan - (the two elements of plan and pace can be combined, and are sometimes expressed as P2).
Adapt or Act - review plan, adapt if necessary, before committing to act on the plan (equating to action).
Short for what goes inside every teaching session:
Activity, skills, knowledge
Variation: SKA - Skills, Knowledge, Attitude
The objectives of education:
Know, Want to know, How to find out, Learn
The objectives of a training session:
In What Ways Might We
Can they do it?
Do they have a positive Attitude?
Is it Useful to them?
Are they Skilled in it?
Do they have similar Experience?
Is it Different.?
Career and Jobs:
Dedication, Responsibility, Education, Attitude, Motivation
Explains itself - Often found on rubber wrist bands,
Goals, Reality, Options, Will.
This is relevant to any situation that requires realistic objectives to be established, and then the planning and determination to achieve them.
The six acceptable reasons for leaving your job if asked why in a job interview:
Challenge, Location, Advancement, Money, Pride (or Prestige), Security
Do I Know What I Am Doing?
Useful reminder to check readiness before starting anything which might cause problems if under-prepared.
A technique for taking behavioral interviews:
Situation - Action - Result
What each new hire must know:
Key Responsibility Areas
Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, Activities
This is a simple blueprint and order of thinking for business planning of any sort, even for large complex challenges and entire businesses.
Identify, Design, Execute, Augment
Process for changing anything. Identify the issues, priorities, constraints, resources; Design the plan; Execute the plan; Augment, refine, adjust and improve activities to consolidate change.
MMM or 3M
Measurable, Manageable, Motivational.
The three essential legs for any contracted arrangement or understanding, or delegated task. Remove any of the three legs and the structure falls over.
4P (also PPPP)
Piss-Poor Prior Planning
Used in military contexts.
A four-step model for carrying out change:
Plan, Do, Check, Action
Used for improving, optimizing and stabilizing business processes:
Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.
Creativity and Problem Solving:
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Use it everyone – problem –solving, personal analysis, marketing planning, project planning, business planning…
Identify, Define, Explore, Action, Lookback.
Process for solving problems: Identify the problem, Define it, Explore possible solutions and effects, Action the chosen solution, and Look back at the solution you brought about.
Political, Economic, Social, Technological
Some use 'Environmental' used instead of 'Economic' depending on the context.
PEST is sometimes extended to 'PESTELI' in which the headings: Ecological (or Environmental), Legislative (or Legal), and Industry Analysis are added.
Social, Legal, Economic, Political, Technological. 'SLEPT analysis' is a business review method similar to PEST or SWOT for assessing factors enabling or obstructing the business's performance, and typically its development potential.
(thus TOTBoxer and TOTBoxing)
Think Outside The Box/Thinking Outside The Box.
A TOTBoxer is a person who thinks outside the box - i.e., very creatively. TOTBoxing is thinking outside the box. Cleverer than a straightforward TOTB acronym, the expression elegantly describes a creative thinker, or the creative act.
Situation analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action, Control. SOSTAC is a business marketing planning system developed by PR Smith.
Modify, Magnify, Minify
Put to other use
Eliminate (Reverse, Rearrange).
A decision-making strategy created by Edward de Bono. For any problem or solution, list these:
A creativity technique:
Fluency (many ideas)
Flexibility (variety of ideas)
Originality (unique ideas)
Elaboration (fully developed ideas).
A simple process for creativity:
Open mind and apply creative techniques
Identify best solution
The main thing about any new business decision, plan or project:
Key Success Factors
Guy Kawasaki's acronym for features of a great product:
Deep, Indulgent, Complete, Elegant, Emotive
Identify, Manage, Change, Improve, Show.
The basis of the Japanese approach to TQM, as in: Identify customer-supplier relationships, Manage processes, Change culture, Improve communications, Show commitment.
Minimum Of Fuss, Maximum Of Flavor.
This emphasizes the concept of focusing your effort on what matters most. 'Minimum of Fuss' equates to minimum effort, investment, time, resources, etc. 'Maximum of Flavor' equates to maximum return, result, reward or effect, etc. This is the secret of productivity, sustainable success, and effectiveness in all fields.
Management By Walking About (or Wandering Around).
If you are a manager and like to manage by walking about make sure you do it with humility and genuine interest. Better still why not actually do the job on the factory floor for a week and you'll really find out what's going on. Indirectly referred to as the 'HP Way'.
Management By Wandering Around and Listening. Extension of the MBWA management technique.
Mediocrity, Ego, Limits, Vanity, Incompetence, Name-calling.
Non-productive aspects of workplace behavior and attitude. Various MELVIN terms (e.g. 'NO MELVIN', 'Don't be a MELVIN', 'No MELVIN's here', etc) help remind people of the behaviors to avoid, especially in blame cultures or negative-thinking environments.
Maximum Impact, Little Effort.
Acronym to express the principle of optimizing productivity, and the value of identifying 'high-yield' areas on which to apply 'high-yield' methods and techniques.
Especially helpful in sales and marketing training.
Common answer is: Master of Business Administration. Cynics say it stands for ‘Master of Bullshit Answers’.
Or, Mop Bucket Attitude
MBO (or MBO's)
Management By Objectives. The classic management, delegation and development technique, but which people's activities and aims - and the coaching support given - can be geared to organizational targets and priorities.
Problem, Rectification, Investigation, Correction.
Known as the corrective action loop. These are the essential four stages for good quality management practice, customer service development, quality of service, and general personal development. The main point is that rectifying the problem is only half the story; you need to ensure there is no recurrence.
Paternalistic, Economic, Participative. The three main motivational styles found in organizations and management.
Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence.
Skills, Strategy, Structure, Style, Systems, Staff, Shared values.
The McKinsey organization’s famous 7S model values' for organizational culture, analysis and development. The idea is that the first six S's combine to form the seventh: 'shared values.’
Priorities, Outcomes, Sequence, Timings, Attendees, Date, Time, Venue
These are the essentials for a good meeting, and what must appear on the agenda. ('Outcomes' meaning required outcomes, i.e. discussion, decision, etc.)
Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-bound.
Other interpretations of the SMART acronym:
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-bound, Ethical, Recorded.
The expanded version of the SMART acronym.
A strategy to prepare for exams by predicting the questions on the exam:
Predict, Organize, Rehearse, Practice, and Evaluate
A reading/study skills strategy:
A technique for analyzing the style of a piece of literature:
Diction (choice of words), Imagery, Details, Language, and Syntax (structure and patterns of sentences).
A closure technique that helps you reflect on the completed lesson:
Communicate what you learned. Reaction. Offer one sentence that sums up what the whole lesson was about. Where are some different places you could use this? Note how well we did today.
An activity to help you activate prior knowledge before beginning a new topic.
List, Inquire, Note, Know
Edward de Bono's strategy to help you analyze the reasons behind actions:
Aims, Goals, Objectives
Survey, Question, Read, Recall, Review.
Quickly Surveying the whole thing (i.e. look but not in detail), next note down your Question areas, then Read it in detail, Recall your questions and Review the material you've read.
Read The Question Twice.
A very useful reminder for text-based exams, especially multiple choice tests, to help avoid making silly mistakes when the answer is known but given incorrectly due to rushing and misreading the question.
Sense of direction, Understanding, Courage, Charity, Esteem, Self-confidence, Self-acceptance.
Keep It Simple Stupid
One of the all time great acronyms - a motto and reminder that simplicity works - in communications, design, philosophy, relationships, decision-making, meetings, management and life generally.
Apply and promote KISS to any situation to deter unnecessary complication, excuses, bureaucracy, red-tape, and to encourage practical positive outcomes, no-nonsense communications, integrity, truth, beauty, and honesty.
Variations on the KISS theme:
Keep It Short and Sweet
Keep It Simple Sunshine
Keep It Simple and Straightforward
Keep It Simple Sister
Keep It Simple Sweetheart
A way of looking at life positively:
Shut Up Move On.
Be Ready and Victory's Easy
Get Really Excited About Today
Help Enrich and Lift the Lives of Others
Helping Other People in Every way
Live It Fully Everyday
Progressing Everyday And Changing Everyway
Action Changes Things
Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence
Special Magic In Living Everyday
Pray Everyday And Cherish Everyone
Trust Releases Unbelievable Enthusiasm
Not Another ME
Random Acts Of Recognition Everyday
Hearts Understand Goodness
People Expect Openess Passion Love Excellence
Preserve Human Dignity
Poor Hungry Driven
Passion Attracts Togetherness
There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
You're On Your Own
Mind Your Own Business
Stay Off the Bottle, Enjoy the Road
Stop - Take a New Direction
Learn, Educate, Appreciate, Develop.
DDDD (or, 4 D)
Technique of Time management:
Delete what is not urgent and not important.
Delay tasks that are not important at present.
Delegate asks that are beyond your competence.
Do: Do the urgent and important task immediately
Waste Of Money Brain And Time
What the internet begat us:
Too Much Information
What the internet begat, redux:
More Information Than I/You/We Needed/Wanted [To Know].
In case of time management, how we while away the hours entertaining ourselves:
Short for Body Mass Index, an indicator of obesity.
The BMI formula:
BMI = ( Weight in Kilograms / ( Height in Meters x Height in Meters ) )
The WHO regards a BMI of less than 18.5 as underweight and may indicate malnutrition, an eating disorder, or other health problems, while a BMI greater than 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is considered obese.
Short for first aid treatment for strains, sprains, contusions, dislocations, or uncomplicated fractures:
A basic principle of fitness training that stands for:
Frequency - how often
Intensity - how hard
Time - how long
Type - the type of training (strength, endurance etc.) ...
Stands for High-intensity interval training - a method of exercise that involves brief periods of all-out, or sprint-like, effort, interspersed between lower-intensity recovery periods.
A concept about seeking happiness, given by Martin Seligman
- Neale Donald Walsch
Face Everything and Recover
Short for qualities of a useful presentation:
Interest, Comprehension, Emphasis, Participation, Accomplishment, Confirmation
Training aids for presentation - Comparison, Reason, Example, Statistics, Testimony
My Eyes Glazed Over
Watch for this sign from your audience at your next presentation.
A technique for stress management:
Stop what you are doing, put things down for a minute.
Take a breath.
Observe your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Proceed with something that will support you in the moment – E.g. talking to a friend, going on a walk…
A technique for stress management:
Recognize that you are actually stressed out.
Exercise to divert your thoughts, and to release all the tension and negative emotions that come with stress.
Letting Go - separate the necessary from the unnecessary. Not all things are worth stressing over. Moreover, nothing is permanent in this world.
Xtra sleep – sleeping gives your mind and body some rest. Sleeping may also help you form new ideas as your subconscious works while you rest.
Accept the anxiety. Don’t try to fight it.
Watch the anxiety. Notice on your feeling, and your breathing. Just breathe it out.
Repeat the above steps in your mind if necessary.
Expect the best.
Stay away from bullies, Tell someone, Avoid bad situations, Make friends, and Project confidence
A helpful acronym used by the U.S. Military during survival situations::
Size up the situation - your physical condition, supplies and equipment, surrounding environment, your opponents condition.
Use all your senses - because it’s easy to get caught up in one sense in a high-stress situation.
Remember where you are.
Vanquish fear and panic - take a deep breath, focus only on what you need to do.
Improvise and improve - when you have nothing left to loose, be creative.
Value living - focus on the good things in life to motivate yourself. Remember what you are fighting for, the people that you love, and so on.
Act like the natives, when away from home. As the saying goes, ‘When in Rome…’
Live by your wits- most importantly, live in the moment.
Stop and Sit: And take a deep breath.
Think: Take a mental inventory of your options before you do anything. Prioritize.
Observe: What is noteworthy and useful for purposes of building a fire or shelter, or pose a risk? What is the weather like?
Plan: Use all the data you have gathered, and don’t panic.
A useful self-defense technique of dealing with attackers, indicating where to hit quickly and with most force:
Solar-Plexus (Stomach) Instep Nose Groin
Aka the 4 F’s of survival - 4 basic, primal needs that we must satisfy to survive and prosper.
A big tip for writers - you have to sit down to write something - put in the hours.
Butt In Chair
A better alternative: BICHOK: Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard (only way to finish a book)
An Essay-writing Technique:
Point - Make a point.
Evidence - Quote the text.
Review - Check your work
Short for a technique for writing the main body of an essay:
Facts, Anecdote, Description, Question, Quote or Dialogue
Short for another technique for writing the main body of an essay:
Facts, Incidents, Reasons, Examples, Statistics
Short for a technique for ending essays:
Predict, Recommend, Generalize, Restating, last events, Question
A writer should not explain everything that appears on the page. That takes the magic out of writing.
Resist the Urge to Explain
Decide on audience, goals, and position
Examine the reasons for your theme
Form a list of points for each reason
Expose your position in the first sentence
Note each reason and supporting points
Drive home the position in the last sentence
Search for errors and correect
- A acronym for task-specific writing strategy (given by E.S. Ellis)
A writing strategy:
Role of the Writer: Who are you as the writer? A movie star? The President? A plant?
Audience: To whom are you writing? A senator? Yourself? A company?
Format: In what format are you writing? A diary entry? A newspaper? A love letter?
Topic: What are you writing about?
A writing strategy by Edwin S. Ellis:
Preview audience, goals, & words.
List main ideas & details.
Assign numbers to indicate order.
Note ideas in complete sentences.
A writing strategy to remember the key parts of a paragraph.
Point, Illustrations, Explanation
Helps you remember which aspects of your writing they should check when editing: Sentence structure, Tenses, Organization, Punctuation, Spelling
A proofreading strategy: Spelling, Capitalization, Order of words, Punctuation, Express complete thoughts
Together Everyone Accomplishes Miracles/More
Together Everyone Accomplishes More
Together Everyone Achieves More
Together Everyone Acquires Money
Together Everyone Advances Missions
Together Everyone Advancing and Motivating
Together, Everyone and Anyone Matters
Together Everyone Annoys Me