February 12, 2014
I spend a lot of time thinking of indirect ways to say what I mean.
I bet you do, too.
We do this a lot at work. For example, if I don’t like something, instead of saying, “I don’t like this,” I say I “have concerns” about it.
If a colleague turns in lousy work, I may suggest he or she “take another stab” at the task.
I don’t call people or send notes. I reach out. On occasion, I contact them.
I succumb to awful catch phrases. When I’m busy, my “plate is full.” Later, I will “come up for air.” When I offer an idea to help a client sell something, I declare we will “move the needle.” I’m all about “leveraging assets.”
Regarding money, I obfuscate with the best of them. I seldom ask, “How much money do you plan to spend?” Nor do I say, “Here’s how much we’ll charge to do this work.” Instead, I inquire about “available resources” and tiptoe around “budget considerations.”
In the world of work, we torture verbs until they become nouns. What is our ask of this celebrity? How will we handle the reveal? What is the client’s total spend? We need a solve for this issue.
We even abuse prepositions. Just think of all those times you’ve promised to do some thinking “around” a particular challenge.
Some non-word words have become so common that we forget they once were disposable bits of jargon. Get together to talk about how to fix a problem and the gathering is automatically a “brainstorm.” Choose to pursue certain interests and you’ve now adopted a particular “lifestyle.”
I’ve stubbornly managed to resist a few of the more contemptible creations of the modern workplace. I will ask your advice, but I will not pick your brain. I will do plenty of research, but I refuse to do a deep dive. Similarly, unless I’m in a plane, I won’t fly at 30,000 feet.
For even one day, I’d like to say and write exactly what I mean.
But I’d better not. Such language might impact my colleagues in a negative fashion.