Do you ever have conversations with your users where you don’t understand each other at all? It could be that you receive a simple request, but it is phrased in a way that isn’t “Salesforce-speak.” Or you could be explaining a particular function, and the person’s eyes just glaze over as if you are not even speaking their language anymore.

Now, be honest – did you get frustrated with the user for not understanding your wonderfully elaborate technical response? Or for not knowing the right terminology when they asked for your assistance? We have all been there. And I’m willing to bet that most of us have treated at least one of our users like they were a complete idiot. My opinion – I can hear the Twitter followers dropping like flies as I type this – is that this sort of communication breakdown is the fault of the admin.

Here are some examples of simple words that you and a non-admin Salesforce user may not think of in quite the same way:

Okay, that may be a bit of a stretch – but hopefully you get the point. Terms that make perfect sense to you can be complete gibberish to the average non-admin user. I’ve said the following…

“You can’t save it because of the validation rule”

“Which picklist values are you referring to?”

“You can’t edit it because it is populated by an Apex trigger”

…and I’ve had a lot of “what on earth are you talking about?” reactions.

It’s time we start speaking to our users in a language that they understand. Remember the SNL skit about the condescending IT guy? Salesforce admins have become that guy at an alarming rate over the past half-decade or so. At my current company, we have over 300 Salesforce users – and I can count on one hand the number of people who have asked me to teach them Salesforce terminology. So why are we expecting that from them? A perfect example: I have several friends who are programmers, and they don’t expect me to understand what they are talking about when they get onto that subject – but they don’t disrespect me for it either.

So simplify. Remember that to a non-admin user, “it’s automated” makes a lot more sense than “an Apex trigger is rolling up the sum of Field X from This Object.” Be as clear as you can be with as few boring technical details as possible. It’s not the job of the user to learn Salesforce terminology – they’ve got stuff to sell! Let’s help them and train them in a way that makes it easier for them to log in, do their job, and move on. And maybe someday the “Unselfish Admin” will be more common than the “Rock Star Admin.” Better yet… maybe we can be both.

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