When middle management in particular wishes to impress, it uses office jargon.
The two which always get to me are “rolling out” and “real time”. The first suggests some great lumbering beast on trolley wheels which gets “rolled out”. Why can’t they just say “introduced” or “distributed”?
The second is so stupid, it’s annoying. What the hell is “real” time? Time is time. By definition, it’s real. I believe one of the most annoying is “thinking outside the box”, followed by “pushing the envelope”.
Some expressions seem legit to me. For example, having a “brainstorming” session suggests everyone throws ideas in in a group discussion. “I’ll get back to you on that,” also seems legit – quite understandable.
The Plainspeaking English people might object to office idioms and I’d agree with that when it goes PC and is used by limited brains but English has always used idiomatic expressions widely. And that’s before we get onto phrasal verbs such as dressing up, looking up, following up.
In order to understand how much we do talk in idioms, one needs to see it from a foreigner’s point of view learning English. These sometimes flummox:
# barking up the wrong tree
# bedroom eyes
# coals to Newcastle
Often the other language has similar and so it’s understood more easily but often not. So, each and every one of them has gradually to be learnt. This has always been the case and we have to do that too when learning another language. This is not what the Mail article was on about though, was it?
# The two that get right up my nose is “at this moment in time” and “we are holding several dialogues with them!” Why just not say now and having talks?
# These phrases are only used by people who are out of their depth and haven’t a clue what is really going on.
# A manager where I used to work went off and had NLP training… after that we couldn’t understand a word he said. The classic was when somebody had a go at him, and he just gave a cheesy grin and said ‘I can’t deal with your anger at this time’.
Yep, Common Purpose speak.
# I can remember when this American style rubbish started. Along with it came the idiotic mission statements and sickening little plaques with words like ‘Our customers mean so much to us’. Employers in this country must think that their employees are thick. My manager once told me that he wanted to ‘Touch base’ with me, he didn’t look too pleased when I told him that I’d rather he didn’t touch my base thank you.
# The best one I heard is that I’m going to jump in a puddle and splash you with my ideas. He no longer works with us.
# I hate ” so we can all start singing from the same spreadsheet” so much I scream inside when I hear my boss use it!
# ‘Managing expectations’ really annoys me!
Agreed – what the hell does it mean? Don’t expect anything, as you won’t be disappointed?
If we combine this office jargon rubbish with the types of people who are increasingly being employed – young, of limited brain, ambitious, easily led, accepting crap as otherwise, it’s more than their job’s worth – then it’s easy to see how it spread like wildfire. “Like wildfire” is a simile, by the way, not a metaphor.
# When a new manager started at our company, he usually brought a new trendily named process with him and it was fascinating to see the how the forelock-tugging plonker brigade adopted the expression and dropped it in to every conversation.
# “Synergy” is one of those “buzz-words” used to make pretty simple ideas sound like something clever by people who also are pretty simple but want to appear clever!
# The directors in my organisation use the phrase “washing it’s own face”; they use this in the context of describing a service area that covers it’s own costs. Personally, this phrase makes my skin crawl. It’s stupid, confusing to people who don’t know what it means, it’s meaningless and totally unnecessary.
With that last one, notice the misuse of the apostrophes too?
Mind you, there are expressions which are not too bad, such as “welcome aboard” – the ship or bus analogy is OK but then it got ridiculous. “Flying kites” is close to the edge but when you add “to see if they fly”, it becomes more understandable.
The beautiful thing about going down and working on the boat though is that one does not need to think of any of this, only where I misplaced the bloody drill a few moments ago.