Red Swingline Staplers as Communication Tools
I use my red Swingline stapler every day, though I can’t recall actually stapling anything in years.
The colour of the stapler is no coincidence, as my first encounter with a red Swingline was the cult classic Office Space. In the movie, Milton Waddams defends his prized piece of office equipment from theft and destruction at the hands of unscrupulous coworkers.
For Milton and millions of office workers worldwide, the red Swingline has become a symbol of those pieces of our work life for which we would, if ignored, set the world on fire.
My stapler’s daily use is as a reminder that everyone has red-stapler issues in their work life, and that a failure to communicate on those issues could have dire, unforeseen consequences.
It’s an important reminder, to be sure. Our placement in our company’s organization and workflow means that communicating as a UX professional is both imperative and, at times, extremely difficult.
Here are a few important lessons to learn to help avoid those red-stapler situations.
Learn and translate new languages
My wife and I do not speak the same language.
My wife is an Archivist, and I’m a User Experience Engineer. Unsurprisingly, there is very little crossover between the world of antiquities and modern technology and design. Any dinner table conversation that begins with the inane question of “How was your day?” can lead to a whole meal spent translating different professional terms and concepts into language the other can understand.
This simply goes to illustrate this point: no one speaks the same language. Our individual collections of idioms, slang, and jargon is unique to each of us. What’s more, our own language changes and evolves depending on the group of people we’re interacting with at the moment.