Mind Your Ps & Qs


We use acronyms, sayings, slang and phrases that mean different things to different people. And when we use them we assume everyone understands what we are trying to communicate. But if they do not know the reason or meaning behind the acronyms, saying, slang or phrases then how can our message be nearly understood? And how do we know they don’t get it when most people aren’t willing to ask when they don’t understand?

I sat in a meeting and listened to people talk in acronyms for about twenty minutes. After the first three minutes I couldn’t keep up with all the letters, so I listened and tried really hard to understand. I eventually raised my hand and asked about one of the acronyms used at the beginning of the conversation. They explained it and the conversation went on. During the break two people stopped me and thanked me for asking about the meanings behind the acronyms because they were lost as well.

In visiting a friend’s print studio I noticed an entire set of letters had fallen on the ground, what a mess. I commented and the artist told me a story. In the printing world this is the job you gave a new apprentice, or someone you did not want to stick around. Not only did they have to pick up each and every letter, they then had to put them back in the right order in the letter tray. The key was if they could keep the Ps and Qs straight. When you look at those letters they can look exactly alike, so it is important to mind your Ps and Qs…hence the saying. Now that I know the meaning behind the saying it makes all the difference.

It’s the story or explanation behind the acronyms, slang, sayings or phrases that make all the difference, when we take the time to explain it everything becomes clear. The letters all over the floor of our friend’s studio was a reminder to me to be clear, explain, and make sure everyone listening understands. It’s like minding the Ps and Qs of communicating all the time without the hassle of having to pick up all the letters off the floor.




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