Unpacking the viral ninja hack guru in the cloud
January 10, 2013 5:35 AM   Subscribe

This AskMe thread about new and overused business cliches/jargon is a thing of beauty.
posted by The Whelk to MetaFilter-Related at 5:35 AM (181 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

The Ask Metafilter enterprise verticals team helps stakeholders transform global ideation via online innovation for optimized buy-in, is what we say around here.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:46 AM on January 10, 2013 [43 favorites]


Okay. You had me snorting aloe vera juice all over my iPad, taz.
posted by likeso at 5:50 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not sure we should water-cooler that here.
posted by flabdablet at 5:50 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am not sure why we have to use silly neologisms like "stakeholder" when the word "Slayer" has been around for generations.
posted by griphus at 5:51 AM on January 10, 2013 [60 favorites]


Shit. Flabdablet! Now I really gotta go get a paper towel. And stop drinking when I read this.
posted by likeso at 5:52 AM on January 10, 2013


My wife just made the move from teacher to school administrator, and is getting buried in newspeak business-speak, which is completely new to her and drives her crazy--I get occasional emails during the day saying "Is this banal turn of phrase a real thing that business-y people say, or are they just fucking with me?"

Which is just to say, I'm going to spend the day soaking this thread in, and then speak exclusively in inane-business-jargon for the rest of the week. Going forward, we're going leverage our conversational synergies for maximum social expediency. Time to to push the envelope. 110% effort.
posted by Mayor West at 5:53 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


No, no, slayer hasn't been around for generations, there's just a slayer every generation...completely different!
posted by Atreides at 5:55 AM on January 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


I just realized that my answer in one AskMe was to recommend a "pack and ship" office.

Then I contributed "unpack" to the AskMe thread in question.

SYNERGY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by The Deej at 6:14 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Time to to push the envelope.

Your visioneering is last-century brick-and-mortar outmoded. I'm sensing no scalable maneuverability here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:24 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


It really is. My boss doesn't speak this dialect except when his supervisor visits, and his supervisor's supervisor uses it so extensively that I can't imagine him talking to his kids.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:28 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


That entire thread should be run through the LOLCAT Translator for full effect.
posted by lampshade at 6:45 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh man, there's a sign up at work about having a "respectful ElderCare conversation". Every time I see it I mentally shout "How about avoiding CamelCase™ MarketSpeak™ terms like 'ElderCare'??"
posted by DU at 6:46 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


That Guy: Let's practice your execu-speak. "I'm worried about blank."
Fry: Don't you worry about blank. Let me worry about blank.
That Guy: Good. I would have also accepted: "Blank? BLANK?! YOU'RE NOT LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE!".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:48 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


No, no, slayer hasn't been around for generations

I don't know, man. I'm old enough to be the father of plenty of people I've seen wearing Slayer t-shirts.
posted by The World Famous at 7:01 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to work for a big law firm, which of course had it's own cultural baggage and jargon, but I recently started working for the consumer banking division of a giant conglomerate. Holy cats, I occasionally get emails that are made up ENTIRELY of corporate speak. Do people know they are writing that way?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:05 AM on January 10, 2013


Yeah, that thread might as well be titled A School Administrator's Style Guide.
posted by absalom at 7:08 AM on January 10, 2013


Do people know they are writing that way?

Don Watson suspects not.
posted by flabdablet at 7:11 AM on January 10, 2013


Thanks for keeping us in the loop on this; moving forward, I'll reach out to anyone else who hasn't been informed of that thread.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:13 AM on January 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


Do people know they are writing that way?

I USED TO GET WORK EMAILS WRITTEN ENTIRELY IN CAPITALS WITH MINIMAL PUNCTUATION IF PEOPLE DONT NOTICE THAT THEY ARE SENDING THE EQUIVALENT OF CRAYON SCRAWLINGS HOW DO YOU EXPECT THEM TO REALISE THEY ARE USING TOO MUCH JARGON THANKS ENDSOFINVENTION
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:16 AM on January 10, 2013 [23 favorites]


Action requests like this are inline with metafilter's wheelhouse.

*shudder*
posted by milarepa at 7:19 AM on January 10, 2013


I have people at work that say stuff like this with a straight face. We play faux drinking games - e.g., whenever someone uses 'per se' incorrectly, take a faux drink. We were faux loaded on 'optimize' day. I don't even faux remember 'going forward' day.
posted by Mister_A at 7:20 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Honestly, seriously, it's taken me to my mid-40s to realize that most of the people I work with are dull plodders who wouldn't know good work if it landed on their desk and belched out gold coins with pictures of Angelo from Fishbone on 'em. Now, what to do with this knowledge?
posted by Mister_A at 7:22 AM on January 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Now, what to do with this knowledge?

Flag it and move on. The only other possibilities are falling into pits of despair and/or bitterness. and who wants that?
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:28 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Too late! Where were you 6 months ago!?!?!?!?
posted by Mister_A at 7:30 AM on January 10, 2013


This has always fascinated me. The continuum between the secret language of the priestly caste and thieves cant -- that terminology is both a status-identifier and a signifier of initiation. It's even better when it's pure silliness, like asking for the code word at the treehouse door.

I'm sure someone somewhere has written the definitive book about this, and I just don't know how to find it.

Is the tendency for communication to devolve into jargon among closely-interacting cohorts a natural result of how we use language, or is it adaptive behavior, arising from status-seeking or a need for validation?

If you look at the bottom end of any business, the place where things get made or services get rendered, you find an argot, a verbal shorthand that exists to add precision or concision. The calls a quarterback barks at the line of scrimmage would be one highly-specialized form of this. Or server jargon: "I can pick up a four-top. I have a deuce camping and the kitchen's in the weeds so I can slow-walk them, no problem."

So at one end, where actual transaction takes place, code speak arises to cram more information in. But as you abstract upward, the code speak changes. It becomes diffuse, increasingly meaningless. Instead of conveying information, it becomes status-signification. It is now a detriment to the exchange of information, instead of the tool for doing so. And it's a linguistic fungus that infects every hierarchical organization: business, government, religion.

It's like at above a certain basic threshold, everyone is just play-acting in a consensus improv. Yet we all cheerfully agree that that's How Shit Works so people borrow wheelbarrows full of money to buy a set of letters after their name certifying that they have Mastered The Jargon and deserve admittance to the priestly caste.

But it's more than just admittance. It's also anesthesia through euphemism. If your job is shuffling papers related to "off-shoring" jobs as the company "globalizes", that's easier to do than shuffling those same papers about putting your countrymen out of work to buy slave labor overseas. It's not "torture". It's "enhanced interrogation".

I mean, look at the economic meltdown. It happened because people constructed documents so crammed full of arcane bullshit that no one could understand them, which made them easy to sell to other people impressed by arcane bullshit. Look at the much-lampooned iTunes agreement we all click past. Last time I checked it was 64 pages long, and I'm sure it's grown since then. That's language as fence, as bulwark. That's really fucking creepy if you stop to think about it too long.

I'm glad business-speak is funny, because it's also terrifying.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:43 AM on January 10, 2013 [64 favorites]


I dunno, I've seen a fair amount of jargon used and most everyone using it knows it's just breezy bullshit adornment. It's not terribly opaque or secretive; it's more just ham handedness in trying to inject some sort of objectivity.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:47 AM on January 10, 2013


It's a natural evolution of an artform, folks. This is just the baroque period. In a few years business meetings will have the CEO stand up, open their mouth, hold it open for a little over four minutes, and sit back down to riotous applause and a significant uptick in share price.
posted by griphus at 7:50 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Future meetings will also require that all stakeholders dress like Bowie in the 'Ashes to Ashes' video.
posted by mintcake! at 7:52 AM on January 10, 2013


Burhanistan: Mostly it is attempts to fit in culturally. Having recently joined the tech corp world my method is: use as much biz-speak as you please with your superiors as long as they use it with you but use very little with peers and NONE with people you manage.

Meanwhile, I think there's a big difference between cliches that actually describe new concepts or are harmless shorthands (Metrics instead of numbers, ping meaning "chat with gchat or other chat program" and glocal for global+local) and silly confusing jargon like "bandwidth" "lets interface" and "town-hall meeting" instead of "we're going to talk to you for once".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god, I still get all-caps emails to this day from people writing to me in their professional capacities as employees of a large corporation. I can't fathom it. Why not all-lowercase if you are too poor a typist to manage the shift key? Presumably these people receive email from a variety of correspondents and presumably almost none of those correspondents write their emails in all-caps; do they just not notice that they are the odd ones out?
posted by enn at 8:01 AM on January 10, 2013


I assume they're the same people who still shout during long-distance phonecalls.
posted by griphus at 8:02 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a colleague who makes the epic mistake of mixing business jargon with (actual, useful) terms of art he's overheard from creative folks and programmers. Thank the gods no one really knows what he's saying, because he's constantly suggesting things that are self-contradictory.
posted by Mister_A at 8:08 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some of the posts in that thread are just ignorant too.
For instance:

""Price point" makes me want to punch whoever says it in the mouth. I know I have issues but, still..."

Yes, you have issues. Price point is a thing with a definition, different from merely "price". It's jargon, but so is Joule or Chromatid. Maybe try looking stuff up before assuming you should make punchy.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:11 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK that divide and conquer one is pretty hilarious though.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:12 AM on January 10, 2013


I had the same thought on price point. Sometimes it's used as a substitute for price, which is something that it ain't, but used properly it has a discrete meaning.
posted by Mister_A at 8:18 AM on January 10, 2013


Price point is a thing with a definition

Yes, but essentially no one in corporate management who uses the phrase is using it in that sense. 99% of the time they are using it to mean "price."
posted by enn at 8:21 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Look, if you guys don't know how to service price points, you are literally throwing me under the bus.
posted by gorbichov at 8:39 AM on January 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


I had a similar reaction to Potomac Avenue on "Divide and Conquer." Divide and Conquer is used in computer science to means something similar to the usage Mister_A's obnoxious management is using it to mean -- breaking the problem into many smaller chunks, which can then be solved separately. Of course, just because it's a useful strategy in compsci doesn't mean it belongs in business newspeak.
posted by Alterscape at 8:42 AM on January 10, 2013


Now, what to do with this knowledge?

Forwarding it to some of my business contacts!
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:50 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good job BitterOldPunk on living up to your name. ;)
posted by jillithd at 8:57 AM on January 10, 2013


If someone used the phrase "bio-break" in my presence I would eat their still-beating heart before their dying eyes.
posted by elizardbits at 8:57 AM on January 10, 2013 [14 favorites]


A jawdropping feat of breadcraft!
posted by four panels at 9:13 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Price point is a thing with a definition, different from merely "price".

Now if we could just get everyone in the world who has ever used the term "price point" in any context other than an economics lecture to have even the slightest clue what that definition is, we'd be getting somewhere.
posted by The World Famous at 9:24 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, just reading that thread makes me want to die. It's a good thing I'm not in business. Yessiree, I'm glad that I'm going into the sciences, where we would never oh god kill me now
posted by Scientist at 9:24 AM on January 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


My current manager uses "bio-break" regularly.

I spent time in one of the companies that has pioneered and calcified some of these heinous abuses of word use and, sadly, some things stuck with me to the point that I find myself justifying their value. "Going forward", for example, is hard to release. The substitutes just don't do the job as well for me, even though I feel a little silly every time I use it.
posted by batmonkey at 9:28 AM on January 10, 2013


But the substitute of "going forward" is nothing. It's a way of jargoning up an "um."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:30 AM on January 10, 2013


My current manager uses "bio-break" regularly.

...I thought "bio-break" was just WoW raiding jargon. (Most frequently just "brb bio.")
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:32 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


At my old company, "going forward" was code for "if we ask you to do this retroactively, half of you will quit and the other half won't do it."
posted by griphus at 9:33 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would gladly tolerate the use of the term "bio-break" as long as people didn't actually insist on talking shop with me while I'm trying to excrete waste products while on said bio-break.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:37 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought "going forward" just meant "from now on."
posted by ook at 9:38 AM on January 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Do people know they are writing that way?

I did a temp assignment once where they told me how the job worked via a series of undefined three letter acronyms, and then were completely baffled when I didn't understand a word they were saying. (It was one of those offices where everyone hated their jobs, where one could not use the internet on one's lunchbreak 'in case the supervisors see you and don't realise you're on your break and think you're slacking off', and the supervisor went to the same alma mater as me, wanted to be a journalist, but never applied for any jobs in the field because 'there's no point'. They possibly piped ennui through the air conditioning system to stop people stabbing themselves with pens.) But then I can't really talk: I got lambasted on here once for using 'reversioning' - a word that is used so much in TV advertising that I forget how ugly it looks in real life.

In place of saying things that might actually get me sacked, Matt Beaumont wrote two epistolatory (does that still work for e-mail) novels about life in an ad agency, E and E2, that display examples of the other side of business speak - media jargon. The latter had a nice riff on the 'quirky' job titles media organisations give themselves to seem hip - the boss did not wish to be renamed 'Head Honcho'.
posted by mippy at 9:38 AM on January 10, 2013


Doesn't "going forward" just mean "in the future"? As in "OK, let's put that little mistake behind us. In the future/going forward, just excuse yourself if you have to use the bathroom that badly" or "OK everybody, in the future/going forward, the new policy will be that all employees must shower at least twice a week."

I mean it's a bit redundant but I've never really hated it.
posted by Scientist at 9:39 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


For most of my time in eLearning, I worked for one big client as part of a small team of instructional designers / developers. The managers, subject matter experts and IT people we worked with all spoke English (or French, or in one case, 'Strine). It was lovely.

A few years ago I started working with a broader array of clients. In 2010, I found out that some people liked using "verbiage" (or, more frequently, "verbage") as a neutral to positive synonym for "text". In 2011, I was introduced to "learnings" (also mentioned in AskMe). Nothing much happened in the field of language assassination in 2012, which was a pretty slow year for me, but I dread what 2013 might bring.
posted by maudlin at 9:39 AM on January 10, 2013


> I thought "going forward" just meant "from now on."

It does, but usually with a tacit caveat that what had already transpired was probably ungood for whatever reason.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:39 AM on January 10, 2013


Am I the only person who loves business speak as an absurdist art form? The only difference between any workplace of which I've ever been a part and a Ionesco play is the play is usually more coherent and has some kind of resolution. If you go to work each day with the idea you're participating in a large-scale devised piece it makes things much more entertaining.
posted by winna at 9:40 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


From the original thread, pont: "Nthing "reach out", but part of me wants it to get widespread enough that it will evolve into "reach around" for contacting multiple people. "Could you just reach around to Bob, Jeff, and Mike on this one?...""

That one made me bust up. Think where this could go!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:55 AM on January 10, 2013


I'm going to have to circle back on this.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:57 AM on January 10, 2013


Am I the only person who loves business speak as an absurdist art form?

Now I want to see a staged dialogue of mutual incomprehension between a postmodern deconstructionist, a logician, and a C-level exec.

Maybe toss in a MilGov representative and a mathematician while we're at it.
posted by ook at 10:04 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had an advisor in grad school whose expression when faced with linguistic monstrosities of this nature was 'I am not sure that is a word I wish to invite into my personal lexicon.' I find myself using that phrase more and more.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:06 AM on January 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


I USED TO GET WORK EMAILS WRITTEN ENTIRELY IN CAPITALS WITH MINIMAL PUNCTUATION

Heh. One of my coworkers, when she first started working with me, used to send out every goddamn e-mail she sent marked urgent and requiring confirmation of receipt -- million-dollar contract or suggestion for lunch next Thursday alike. It took about three weeks of everyone telling her to calm down before that ceased.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:09 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


elizardbits: "If someone used the phrase "bio-break" in my presence I would eat their still-beating heart before their dying eyes."

Is 'take a shit' ok?
posted by Mister_A at 10:10 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


That thread and all you guys are making my life so much easier. I have a bunch of reports and letters to write today and there's some good cutting & pasting in my immediate future - my clients are going to love these, this is the language they speak, yay. Win win proposition.

I fight fire with fire and do the cliche thing back to them, but in meme-speak. "I think that vendor is just a troll - they are only in it for the lulz." I can pretty much say anything and defend it with "Oh, that's what everyone on the twitterverse is saying."
posted by madamjujujive at 10:11 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


...marked urgent and requiring confirmation of receipt...

I have been doing this one thing for a client for about six months now. This thing, every single time, takes 24-48 hours. Every email I get contains "URGENT!" "ASAP!" and so on, as if they're trying to figure out the magic passphrase that will have the results materialize on their desk with the read receipt.
posted by griphus at 10:11 AM on January 10, 2013


Rough timeline for scatological circumlocutions:

1980s: Coffee Break
1990s: "Rest Break"
2000s: "Health Break"
2010s: "bio-break"

FYI, for internal dissemination only, actionation not required at this time.
posted by bonehead at 10:11 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's all just start anagramming business speak:


Rough timeline for scatological circumlocutions Miscalculating Rococo Oculist:

1980s: Coffee Break Beefcake 'fro
1990s: "Rest Break" Stark Beer
2000s: "Health Break" Bleak Hearth
2010s: "bio-break" Air Kebob

FYI, for internal dissemination nonresidential animist only, actionation oat inaction not required at this time.
posted by griphus at 10:19 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


i love air kebob!
posted by Mister_A at 10:21 AM on January 10, 2013


I thought "going forward" just meant "from now on."

It does, but phrased in a way that triggers in me some sort of deep primal urge to stab everyfuckingthing. My immediate supervisor uses that one about three times every time he talks to anyone. And I don't think he always means "you are a tremendous fuckup," but yes he does,all the time.

Usually it is somehow in conjunction with "at the end of the day."

(Motherfucker, I work the swing shift. THAT PHRASE IS COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS TO ME.


Oh, would you like me to... HELP YOU UNDERSTAND? Stay awake for the next 24 hours, and then we can TOUCH BASE.)


So anyway, I read in thread there is a book this is all coming from? Some sort of horrible new management fad-book. We must burn it. All the copies of it. Fire. Cleansing fucking fire.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:22 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is 'take a shit' ok?

yes
posted by elizardbits at 10:23 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


louche mustachio, we need to find a supportive and effective way to deal with your sudden negative behavior change. It is impacting productivity and creating a hostile work environment. Let's find a way to channel that anger in a positive direction.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:27 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do I get to hit stuff?
posted by louche mustachio at 10:37 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I have said "I feel this conversation is moving in an effwords direction," to curtail the actual torrent of blackened filth that wanted so badly to spew from my face.)
posted by louche mustachio at 10:41 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I also, this very night, I caught myself saying to someone "Yeah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and ask you to (unpleasant work related thing.)"


And then i said "did i actually just say that? I think i need to go punch myself in the face for twenty minutes."
posted by louche mustachio at 10:44 AM on January 10, 2013


Whenever someone tries to talk to me in meaningless corporatebabble I feign total confusion and ask them to explain what they mean by "synergistically".

i'm not really sure how i haven't been fired yet tbh
posted by elizardbits at 10:52 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have coworkers

They all type their e-mails like this

No one ever seems to use punctuation and every sentence is on one line

Can you believe that

Also signing off on e-mails but also having a signature automatically added to the end of your e-mail makes a double signature that is very annoying

Thanks,

backseat

backseatpilot

"STATEMENT OF LIMITATION OF AUTHORITY: You are hereby notified that I do
not have the authority to direct you in any way to alter your contractual
obligations. Only a warranted Contracting Officer may obligate Metafilter. You should take no action on any changes unless and until you receive such a contract modification. Nothing in this email may be construed
as a contract modification or contractual direction."
posted by backseatpilot at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Subject: RE: RE: RE: Coworkers

Plus all the responding of e-mails inline and quoting other peoples signatures is so fucking annoying

Thanks,

backseat

backseatpilot

>I have coworkers

>They all type their e-mails like this

>No one ever seems to use punctuation and every sentence is on one line

>Can you believe that

>Also signing off on e-mails but also having a signature automatically added to the end of your e-mail makes a double signature that is very annoying

>Thanks,

>backseat

>backseatpilot

>"STATEMENT OF LIMITATION OF AUTHORITY: You are hereby notified that I do
>not have the authority to direct you in any way to alter your contractual
>obligations. Only a warranted Contracting Officer may obligate Metafilter. You should take >no action on any changes unless and until you receive such a contract modification. >Nothing in this email may be construed
>as a contract modification or contractual direction."

"STATEMENT OF LIMITATION OF AUTHORITY: You are hereby notified that I do
not have the authority to direct you in any way to alter your contractual
obligations. Only a warranted Contracting Officer may obligate Metafilter. You should take no action on any changes unless and until you receive such a contract modification. Nothing in this email may be construed
as a contract modification or contractual direction."
posted by backseatpilot at 11:09 AM on January 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


Good god it's like an email chain with Philip Glass.
posted by griphus at 11:10 AM on January 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Wait I think I've been getting a bio break mixed up with a Body Break!.

I think I need to send some emails apologizing for some wildly inappropriate comments I've made.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:12 AM on January 10, 2013


I'm reaching out to say I am enjoying this.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 11:15 AM on January 10, 2013


I did a temp assignment once where they told me how the job worked via a series of undefined three letter acronyms, and then were completely baffled when I didn't understand a word they were saying.

I sat through an hourlong discussion of a project plan wherein my manager and our contractors excitedly discussed how important it was to start with the right GFI, the whole time utterly failing to glean from context what the hell they were talking about. It wasn't until I was able to creep away from the meeting and scrounged up an acquisitions manual* (sigh) that I discovered it meant "government-furnished information," i.e., the whole point of my involvement. My #1 comment on the document, when asked: SPELL OUT ABBREVIATIONS JUST ONCE, MOTHERFUCKERS.

*Because seriously, try googling that and getting a reasonably useful answer.
posted by psoas at 11:18 AM on January 10, 2013


Subject: FWD: RE: RE: RE: Coworkers

Agreed!

>Plus all the responding of e-mails inline and quoting other peoples signatures is so fucking annoying

>Thanks,

>backseat

>backseatpilot

>>I have coworkers

>>They all type their e-mails like this

>>No one ever seems to use punctuation and every sentence is on one line

>>Can you believe that

>>Also signing off on e-mails but also having a signature automatically added to the end of your e-mail makes a double signature that is very annoying

>>Thanks,

>>backseat

>>backseatpilot

>>"STATEMENT OF LIMITATION OF AUTHORITY: You are hereby notified that I do

>>not have the authority to direct you in any way to alter your contractual

>>obligations. Only a warranted Contracting Officer may obligate Metafilter. You should take >>no action on any changes unless and until you receive such a contract modification. >>Nothing in this email may be construed

>>as a contract modification or contractual direction."

>"STATEMENT OF LIMITATION OF AUTHORITY: You are hereby notified that I do

>not have the authority to direct you in any way to alter your contractual

>obligations. Only a warranted Contracting Officer may obligate Metafilter. You should take no >action on any changes unless and until you receive such a contract modification. Nothing in >this email may be construed

>as a contract modification or contractual direction."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:18 AM on January 10, 2013 [17 favorites]


> >Also signing off on e-mails but also having a signature automatically added to the end of your e-mail makes a double signature that is very annoying

I'm with you on most of that, but I can excuse signing off where there is already an auto-signature. People usually do that as a form of personalization and to de-formalize the message.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:22 AM on January 10, 2013


De-formalize? Informalize? I'm going to have to talk to HR about my spotty nomenclature when attempting to directly interface.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:23 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


ook: "Am I the only person who loves business speak as an absurdist art form?

Now I want to see a staged dialogue of mutual incomprehension between a postmodern deconstructionist, a logician, and a C-level exec.

Maybe toss in a MilGov representative and a mathematician while we're at it.
"

I am pretty sure that is a Tom Stoppard play.
posted by idiopath at 11:32 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


bonehead: "Rough timeline for scatological circumlocutions:

1980s: Coffee Break
1990s: "Rest Break"
2000s: "Health Break"
2010s: "bio-break"

FYI, for internal dissemination only, actionation not required at this time.
"

1993-1998: "Tapping two yellow mana"
posted by boo_radley at 11:37 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can "summoning sickness" be the new "shy bladder"?
posted by griphus at 11:39 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm with you on most of that, but I can excuse signing off where there is already an auto-signature. People usually do that as a form of personalization and to de-formalize the message.

I worked with someone who was inclined towards keeping things informal. He oversaw an organization of maybe a thousand people and had call to deal with maybe a hundred of them regularly. To balance formality with friendliness, he had the tic that with printed-out correspondence he hand-changed the salutation of every letter in this fashion (read the italicized part as handwritten):

Dear Mr. Haughey Matt,

I can see doing this with people you are actually in touch with every day or two who are receiving something formal, but even people whom he would not recognize in the street but who got some annual update got the buddy-buddy treatment.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:41 AM on January 10, 2013


i'm not really sure how i haven't been fired yet tbh

elizardbits, maybe you have been already been fired and don't know it.

I saw a manager fresh out of business school try to fire and old timer engineer sitting a few rows away from me. The manager went on and on for 20 minutes with shit like 'refusing to respond to actionable feedback', '110%', 'misalignment of core competencies', 'lack of consistent upfeed', etc...

Everyone went quiet and stared, you could see people removing their headphones when they looked at IRC. The engineer just nodded along, responded with "that was really inspiring, thank you" and went back to work.

Years later I talked to the HR guy. The manager had already started the firing process, paperwork had been filed and higher ups notified (or 'upfed'). But he could not afford to lose in front of everyone after his inaugural firing went unacknowledged, and the engineer got unfired.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 11:55 AM on January 10, 2013 [22 favorites]


I wanted to contribute to the thread but I have blocked all these things out of my memory.
I once got an email that was so loaded-down with "nouns as verbs" that I thought "Oh, OK, you're not serious, joking: appropriate" so I replied by taking it up a few notches and it turned out that the sender wasn't kidding.
posted by bleep at 11:57 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who has a problem with most of the answers in that thread??

The question appears to be, roughly, "give me examples of overused bizspeak that has only recently entered business usage." The OP cites the ones he can think of are "at least five years old," at least implying that he's looking for examples more recent than that.

But the thread seems to have turned in to "complain about bizspeak we don't like, regardless of how old it is." Many of the examples presented are decades old. A few, centuries.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:14 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Am I the only one who has a problem with most of the answers in that thread??

Nope, that original thread is actually kinda lame.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:18 PM on January 10, 2013


That thread made me really glad that I mostly deal with musicians professionally. At least our jargon sounds cool.

Now I've got to woodshed some charts, my chops are rusty.

(see)
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:32 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


That thread's full of bloody prescriptivists, whingeing that terms in common currency are used to convey meaning, intelligible to the parties involved.

Yes, we do probably use at least 80% of those cliches almost every single day.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:35 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


brb bio
posted by four panels at 12:36 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good to see someone mentioned "boil the ocean". It seems to mean something different every time I hear it.

I also don't really like bio or bio-break for some reason.

I do like to use those phrases though. I am always looping people in, pinging them, checking their bandwidth, asking for actionable metrics. I'm just spitballing here, we need to onboard the stakeholders and get the ERBs to offshore QC. Going forward, we need to revisit the SLAs.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:41 PM on January 10, 2013


I have coworkers

They all type their e-mails like this

No one ever seems to use punctuation and every sentence is on one line

Can you believe that


That's something I've been consciously working on.

(ie trying to be less verbose)

Easier to scan for important stuff = FASTER READING.

Technical writers have known this for years: how to make info easier to find.

Regards, ubu.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:44 PM on January 10, 2013


I'm constantly reminding people that if you're going to use acronyms, please spell out what they mean at the start of the document as not everyone is up to speed with your gibberish. I work in a technical industry and they fulfill a useful purpose but only if everyone understands them.

Lesson learned, m'kay?
posted by arcticseal at 12:50 PM on January 10, 2013


You know what this thread needs? Some pie charts to really punch up the message.
posted by bonehead at 1:02 PM on January 10, 2013


People who use acronyms all the time don't want you to know what they mean, that's the point!
posted by Mister_A at 1:09 PM on January 10, 2013


Many of the examples presented are decades old.

It's possible that some of the folks who posted in that thread only recently entered the workforce, so those hoary bizspeak chestnuts are new to their whippersnapper ears.
posted by nacho fries at 1:24 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas: That thread's full of bloody prescriptivists, whingeing that terms in common currency are used to convey meaning, intelligible to the parties involved.

The problem is that cliches deaden meaning and avoid thought -- not that they violate grammar rules. Orwell explained this back in 1946:
... two qualities are common to all of them. The first is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse.

...

When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualizing you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. ... They will construct your sentences for you -- even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent -- and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.
(I moved a few sentences around there for brevity.) He also offers a prescription, which is not prescriptive:
To begin with [the defense of English] has nothing to do with archaism, with the salvaging of obsolete words and turns of speech, or with the setting up of a "standard English" which must never be departed from. On the contrary, it is especially concerned with the scrapping of every word or idiom which has outworn its usefulness. It has nothing to do with correct grammar and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes one's meaning clear, or with the avoidance of Americanisms, or with having what is called a "good prose style." On the other hand, it is not concerned with fake simplicity and the attempt to make written English colloquial. Nor does it even imply in every case preferring the Saxon word to the Latin one, though it does imply using the fewest and shortest words that will cover one's meaning. What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them.
It's hard to judge jargon in other people's fields, of course, because you can't know when you overhear e.g. "price point" or "nation state" whether they're being used to convey a distinct concept. And even the cheesiest jargon can be used with careful intention, just for the flavor of it. On the other hand there's the word "utilize."
posted by jhc at 1:25 PM on January 10, 2013


*looks at Askme thread*

Oh, goddammit! I read Metafilter to avoid my job!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:27 PM on January 10, 2013


At least two people mention "ask" as a noun. (When used someplace other than here.) For example, ""what is your ask on this?"

Is this actually a thing? Can someone translate it into language I can understand?

Most of these are silly, and have made me a little more grateful to have a job that doesn't involve this sort of language. But, this one is just incomprehensible.
posted by eotvos at 1:43 PM on January 10, 2013


It's possible that some of the folks who posted in that thread only recently entered the workforce, so those hoary bizspeak chestnuts are new to their whippersnapper ears.

I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to some of the commenters (I've seen "onboarding" for 10+ years, but OK, maybe it's new to steinsaltz) but two of the first three comments pretty much admit that the commenters know that they're old.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:44 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've heard "ask" as a noun specifically in the nonprofit world, to describe the process of extracting money from donors. It's jargon-y for sure.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:45 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just described something as "market-aware" in a document. On the one hand, using other words would've meant using a lot more words. On the other hand, ugh. So inelegant.

"Onboarding" might be breaking out into more general use. I've been working in offices for more than a decade and only started hearing it in the last year or so. Folks I know who have worked in HR were surprised that I hadn't come across it before.

And oh, god, "ask." "That's a big ask" is the preferred abuse of it around here. I still don't hate it as much as the much older use of "grow" as an all-purpose synonym for "increase in size", but it's close.
posted by EvaDestruction at 1:50 PM on January 10, 2013


Is onboarding that terrible? I don't really have much cause to use it, but it seems cromulent enough. Organizations need a standardized way of bringing new people up to speed on all the computer systems, benefits packages, building access, etc, etc. "Orientation" is certainly less buzzy sounding, but is also more narrow.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:54 PM on January 10, 2013


For example, ""what is your ask on this?"

Is this actually a thing? Can someone translate it into language I can understand?


This is just a guess, and you can tell me whether it works in the context you heard it in, but maybe "asking price" (either a literal price, or a metaphorical one as in something wanted in exchange). From "ask" and "bid" in securities trading?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:56 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


ask.metafilter: what is your ask on this?
posted by Kabanos at 2:08 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The ask" came up a lot in non-profit-land, sometimes in describing a key paragraph in a direct mail letter, sometimes in what one might say in a meeting with a potential big donor.

Onboarding as a synonym for orientation etc was one (somewhat annoying) thing, but it really bugged me working for a financial institution when it was used to mean getting a new customer set up with an account. (And trying to get them to move all their other financial services.)
posted by epersonae at 2:11 PM on January 10, 2013


"Asks" are common in my world as a short hand for total amount asked for on a new project from senior management or from a granting body.

It's a fairly useful construction: "What's the ask on this?" replaces "How much will it cost in total?"
posted by bonehead at 2:15 PM on January 10, 2013


Hey, I'm going to gamify this thing!

I will buy coffee ($10 Starbucks card or equivalent) for the first person in this thread who can successfully get a nonsensical acronym/metaphor to take root at their business, like ROUS (rodents of unusual size).

Of course, you'd all be on the honor system, but the rules paradigms for optimizing scalabiliity are as follows:

1. You have to introduce the term seriously, without in any way indicating that it is only made-up.
2. The term has to come back around to you, also used seriously, from an unsuspecting coworker.
3. Coworker must not know you are the one who originated said term.

Go!
posted by misha at 2:19 PM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


The problem is that cliches deaden meaning and avoid thought

That may be the case when you're trying to think outside the square in a greenfields situation, and creative thought is required.

In the context of my business, the terms I was seeing criticised in the AskMe function more as jargon - they convey a specific meaning that is intelligible to all, without wasting too much time on detailed description.

To give one example, "onboarding" is part of our business-as-usual activity; our bread & butter, if you will. It describes the entire process of signing up an external company to a contract, whereby we provide & maintain a widget for them. It's a cookie-cutter kind of process: every onboarding is basically the same as any other, with slight variations in the content, but overall the structure is the same. If I had to be more creative with the cookie cutting metaphor, I'd say that the cookies are all cut the same, but we sprinkle different sprinkles on top, depending on what colour & flavour the contracted company wants.

So, in a meeting, "How's the MegaCorp onboarding going?" is shorthand for something that could only otherwise be described in much more convoluted terms, like "What's the status on the contract negotiation, configuration, testing & implementation of the widget for MegaCorp?" You might be able to shorten this to "How's the MegaCorp implementation going, but "implementation" has its own specific meaning, which is more about physical deployment, rather than the entire end-to-end process.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:21 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is onboarding that terrible?

I suspect it suffers because "getting people on board" is such a tired cliche in its own right.

My employer uses "assimilation" to describe some HR process (the result of orientation + onboarding, maybe? I've only seen it used in passing, and the context wasn't entirely clear), which put the prominent single reddish dot in our logo in a whole new light...
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:22 PM on January 10, 2013


I'm sure someone somewhere has written the definitive book about this

I think you should write it.

"Linguistic fungus" and "anesthesia through euphemism"...dang.
posted by nacho fries at 2:22 PM on January 10, 2013


"getting people on board" is such a tired cliche in its own right.

I'm coining "upspeeding".

(hm, different usage of "onboarding" to what I was describing above. We're all travelling on a big container ship to the promised land of outsourced business process optimisation, and from time to time we stop off in a port to pick up another company's container)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:26 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


At least this MeTa gives me an outlet for my frustration. With my annoyance at how the thread in the green turned in to "complaining about business jargon we don't like," I was this close to trolling it with my own list of made-up business jargon, curious to see if anyone would call me on it. And when I say "this close," I mean I had the post mostly written. Now I can post that list here, instead, with a clear conscience.
fulcrum: a hard and final decision about whether to cancel a project or continue to the next phase; also, the date on which such a decision is to be made, or the meeting at which such a decision is to be made. "I need your recommendation by the 11th, because we're having the fulcrum on the 14th." (or "...because the 14th is the fulcrum.")

refresh: update (either as a verb or a noun). "Go ahead and refresh that now that we have the fourth quarter data." "Take a look at the January 8 refresh and tell me what you think."

signalize: to let the next group to work on a project know that your part in it is done and they should take it from there. "Good work, DA. Go ahead and signalize Marketing."

counterpoised: Prepared to respond to a certain move by a competitor, especially if the competitor's move under consideration is considered not the most likely option. "If WidgetCo releases CoolGadget earlier than the anticipated April release date, we are counterpoised to market our existing product as superior to CoolGadget."

overgrazed: describing a market which would be unprofitable to enter because it's already saturated with competitor products. "There's no point in trying to create a tablet now, that market is overgrazed."

mustachio: to make something visually more appealing, to spruce it up, with the added connotation that one shouldn't spend much time or effort doing so. "The content of that report is good, but you should mustachio it."

put _____ on the boardwalk: to conduct a very small beta test or trial run, with no formal method for collecting or analyzing feedback beyond asking people what they think of it. "I think we've done all we can for CoolGadget, let's put it on the boardwalk."

bespoke: customized (when used outside the garment industry). "We offer bespoke software solutions for your data security needs."

cognize over: Think about. This one disgusts me so much I can't even bring myself to give an example.

deoxygenate: to abruptly terminate a project, without communicating it well. "I haven't heard anything about X for a week, should I still be working on that?" "No, X has been deoxygenated."

unsteel: To bend the rules to accomplish something that one is having difficulty accomplishing within the letter of the rules. "I'm having trouble getting the necessary approvals for this purchase." "Well, let's unsteel that and just get the Assistant Director's approval instead of the Director's."

sourdough: A product that should be renamed/rebranded but not functionally changed. "Our PooPlayer isn't selling well. It's sourdough."

contour: I have no clue what this is supposed to mean in the business sense, but I hear it all the time.

organic provolone: Best of the best; may be used with either products or people. "We want this to be the organic provolone of GPS navigation systems." "We are seeking the organic provolone of Python programmers."

strangify: To deliberately make a product weirder, in the hopes of hiding the fact that it's nearly identical, functionally, to a competitor product. "Our PooPlayer looks too much like WidgetCo's CoolGadget, we need to strangify it."
I was going for a range of believability from "somewhat plausible" to "semi-absurd." While I have not personally heard any of the above, there's a least a couple—refresh, bespoke—for which I would be entirely unsurprised to learn that they had actually been used in that way.

(On preview, feel free to use any of these for misha's gamification.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:27 PM on January 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


fulcrum: a hard and final decision about whether to cancel a project or continue to the next phase; also, the date on which such a decision is to be made, or the meeting at which such a decision is to be made. "I need your recommendation by the 11th, because we're having the fulcrum on the 14th." (or "...because the 14th is the fulcrum.")

"Let's see if we can leverage the fulcrum to shift more product!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:29 PM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


bespoke: customized (when used outside the garment industry). "We offer bespoke software solutions for your data security needs."

Um, you realise that bespoke is perfectly cromulent in IT? "Bespoke software solutions" is used *all the time*, in contrast to off-the-shelf (heh, pret-a-porter) software.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:31 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bespoke solutions

I think I have fighting chance of making "mustachio" happen at my workplace.
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:33 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Bespoke software solutions" is used *all the time*,

It's entirely possible I've heard it before and was subconsciously remembering it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:34 PM on January 10, 2013


Uburolvas: different usage of "onboarding" to what I was describing above. We're all travelling on a big container ship to the promised land of outsourced business process optimisation, and from time to time we stop off in a port to pick up another company's container.

This sounds suspiciously like something slaverunners might say prior to the Civil War.
posted by misha at 2:52 PM on January 10, 2013


I really love organic provolone! I wonder if I can get my husband to use that one?
posted by misha at 2:56 PM on January 10, 2013


You are going to feel pretty ridiculous, DevilsAdvocate, when people are nonironically using those around you. It may even be your fault.

The worst part of reading all that thread is I know what all those things mean and I don't even think it's that weird anymore. I've gone native. Please kill me.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:01 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


My former coworker would say "going future" instead of going forward. There was something so grating about that.

That thread made me so thankful I got laid off from my big corporate job 11 years ago. I rarely hear any of this stuff!
posted by vespabelle at 3:02 PM on January 10, 2013


I must admit, I cognized for quite a while over whether it would be going too far to verbify "fulcrum." In the end I decided the contour of the list would be a little too strangified if I did.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:09 PM on January 10, 2013


Ooh, I love "mustachio" and "overgraze". Game on.

(There has to be something we can do with "fuchsia".)
posted by nacho fries at 3:20 PM on January 10, 2013


Oh, yeah, "overgraze" is so good, it almost seems too easy. Well, except for the part where I'd have to be paying attention in sorts of meetings where it would be natural to introduce it.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:26 PM on January 10, 2013


"Bespoke software solutions" is used *all the time*,

It's entirely possible I've heard it before and was subconsciously remembering it.


The other possibility is that my "bespoke" was the organic provolone of made-up business jargon, and someone sent it back in a time machine to proactively win misha's gamification with it. Strong job of leveraging time travel in order to unsteel the fuchsia of the paradigms, I must admit.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:13 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can't do "fuscia" but "shrink and pink" is a real business term... It means to modify a product engineered for men so it will sell to women, by making it smaller and a "feminine" color...

"Our GizmoX isn't penetrating as much of the market as we hoped, so we're going to shrink-and-pink, and advertise on Lifetime."

I wish I was kidding...
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:21 PM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


There has to be something we can do with "fuchsia".

Ms Ubu & I use "fuchsia" as a code word when shopping, to veto something without offending the salesperson or giving them something to latch onto & talk down:

"Hey, how do you like these shoes on me?"

"Wow, they'd go great with your fuchsia jacket!"

"Hm, maybe I'll think about it...what about these ones over here?"

So, fuchsia is a kind of secret showstopper.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:25 PM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


modify a product engineered for men so it will sell to women, by making it smaller and a "feminine" color

Except for razors. They're pinkified, but always bigger.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:27 PM on January 10, 2013


ricochet biscuit: "Dear Mr. Haughey Matt,"

Our U.S. congresscritter does this. I'm sure his staff thinks it's a folksy way to connect with his constituents and an easy and efficient way to include a "personal" touch other than his signature. To the contrary, I find exceedlngly irksome, especially given that I've gone through the trouble of looking up the correct honorific to include on the address of the letter. Would he walk into a courtroom and refer to the judge by her first name? No. Would he use the first name of the Speaker or a colleague during floor debate? No. But I guess since I'm just a constituent, it's okay for him not only to assume I'm down with a first name basis, but to show his work on the steps he's taken to be offend me. GRAR.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:04 PM on January 10, 2013


Do people still say "bloat"? Or has it been supplanted completely by "cruft"?
posted by gingerest at 5:08 PM on January 10, 2013


I had a couple of high school teachers that routinely called us Ms. and Mr. Whatever, and would explain that if we're not on a first name basis with them, then they're not on a first name basis with us. It wouldn't have worked in junior high, but by the time I was 18 I found it actually somewhat flattering.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:08 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Verbing nouns no longer bothers me much, perhaps because there's just so much of it around. Nouning verbs, though, continues to grate.

I will never, never, never admit to having a "monthly spend".
posted by flabdablet at 5:32 PM on January 10, 2013


"shrink and pink"

Eww. It's so...sphinctral.
posted by nacho fries at 5:35 PM on January 10, 2013


Imagine here in the southern US, where people actually think it's okay for your work email signature to contain bible verses or exhortations to have a blessed day.

Something about people wishing me to have a blessed day makes me want to sacrifice cockerels to Moloch on their desk.
posted by winna at 5:48 PM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Back when I was running IT development projects in Australia during the gogo days a decade plus ago, a coworker buddy (who had similarly low patience for the stuff) and I would sometimes play business bullshit bingo during big meetings, especially ones with Telstra, who we were partnering with on a big project, or other Major Players.

Loser had to buy beer that evening. It was very rare that one of us did not get a bingo within the first 15 minutes or so. It was hard not to throw my arms in the air and yell 'business!' when I won.

We added a level of complexity eventually where, if one of us had gotten and sotto voce notified the other that a bingo had been achieved, in order to be the winner, he had to work in a 'win word' we'd agreed to before the meeting -- the odder, the better -- into something they said later during that meeting, or forfeit.

I loved working in Australia. We worked like demons, but had heaps o' fun, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:14 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I made this wee toy about 10 years back. Has it been that long already?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:16 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whoops, I see it's linked in the Ask thread already....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:29 PM on January 10, 2013


Tomorrow I am going to go to work and at some point, I will have to go to the bathroom, and when I do, I will think "air kebab" and then I will bust up laughing and everyone will look at me like I'm an insane person.

I'm looking forward to that. Thanks for this.
posted by janet lynn at 8:06 PM on January 10, 2013


This thread is making me so glad that every thing my "boss" says is actually literally unintelligible. Most often it's "kutikutikutiKUTI?!" with the occasional "nananananananana" and "guh" thrown in.

Instead of "bio breaks," we've got "Do you have stinks in your pants?" This question is almost always rhetorical.
posted by sonika at 8:26 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Also, "business" around here is code for genitalia. As in "lie back down, I need to clean your business.")
posted by sonika at 8:28 PM on January 10, 2013


1. You have to introduce the term seriously, without in any way indicating that it is only made-up.
2. The term has to come back around to you, also used seriously, from an unsuspecting coworker.
3. Coworker must not know you are the one who originated said term.


My ambitions are even greater than that. Last year, I seeded the internet with a syrupy new age / feelgood chain email type story, which was enthusiastically published by some crystal-loving blogger.

When my vomitous story comes back to me as an email (with all the crappy embellishments, changes of locale, Americanized spellings etc) I get to buy myself a bottle of Grange Hermitage.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:42 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have heard "re-up" in a formal meeting context. But I was quite happy to find a Wire-lover in that context, so I didn't mind.
posted by vidur at 9:04 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


mustachio: to make something visually more appealing, to spruce it up, with the added connotation that one shouldn't spend much time or effort doing so.



Uncannily appropriate.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:04 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will never, never, never admit to having a "monthly spend".

If this isn't a menstrual euphemism then the world just isn't right at all.
posted by elizardbits at 9:21 PM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Victorian erotica euphemism for ejaculation was "spend" in all its declinations

at one point I had to read a lot of Victorian Erotica.
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 PM on January 10, 2013


Recently, my boss wanted to have a quick check-in about a project, but his shared office was occupied. So he asked me to join him for "a quickie in the breakroom". I sort of paused and implied what he had implied and he got embarassed and now he just talks to me at my desk.
posted by maryr at 9:42 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe he just wanted to spend a lot on you.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:46 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think that meets my price point.
posted by maryr at 9:51 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


he hand-changed the salutation of every letter in this fashion

I hate, hate, hate this - it's so fake and affected. I was (very) slightly impressed a while ago when our (then) new minister's staff advised that letters to be signed by him were to have a blank space instead of a salutation, because he preferred to write them himself, depending on how well he knew the person. I still think it's a bit fake, but at least you're not pretending to not be happy with how impersonal the person that wrote the letter made the salutation.
posted by dg at 9:53 PM on January 10, 2013


I think I'll try to fulcrumise my leverage at work tomorrow as I put boots on the ground in our rebranding. At this time, consistency in organizational look/feel is paramount as our business is grown.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:29 PM on January 10, 2013


Instead of "bio breaks," we've got "Do you have stinks in your pants?"

I read these two comments about three times before the right context sank in. For a brief moment, I _really_ wanted to know where you worked. Because while a lot of what my boss says is also literally unintelligible (either that or the audio processing part of my brain is inserting a Charlie Brown trombone filter when he speaks, in self defense), I can't quite imagine getting away with asking anyone if they have stinks in their pants. But it was fun to imagine. I have to admit that the deal with lying down so you can clean their business was a little worrisome.
posted by hades at 11:32 PM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


"The Victorian erotica euphemism for ejaculation was "spend" in all its declinations"

Also an outdated euphemism for peeing is "spend a penny" - I have no idea why and I associate the expression with maiden aunts. Although all my aunts were married so I am even more confused.
posted by gingerest at 11:45 PM on January 10, 2013


I have no idea why

Don't know either, but I always thought it was a reference to pay toilets, which I assumed at some point in history must have cost a penny.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:53 PM on January 10, 2013


I am no stranger to business jargon, but when it comes to doing-your-business jargon, I cringe at things like "bio-break" and don't understand why "I need a few minutes, then..." or "I will be back in a few minutes, then..." can't suffice.

"Reach out", though, does have a specific meaning where I've worked: it means "contact about something that you do not have responsibility to do or official involvement in." So if I am from another team, and you might have information I could use but are not obligated to provide it, or I have a meeting where your input would be useful but you are not obligated to attend, "I am reaching out to..." is acknowledgement of that lack of responsibility, that your response is totally voluntary, no pressure, but hey, it would be nice. "I am following up to...", on the other hand, is the opposite: there is a responsibility or commitment existing, and the contact is regarding fulfillment of it (like a meeting you committed to, or information you promised to provide/are the official provider of.)

So yeah, used improperly or excessively, it is a nuisance, but there is a certain efficiency in communication if you and your coworkers share a common understanding.

Oh, and Misha, I already fulfilled your challenge: In a meeting to set up a team of people whose commonality was not having a project big enough to justify a separate team, I called it "this epic team", and got a laugh. Soon it got backronymed as "Excluded People In Concert", and not long after I started overhearing people on the phone referring to the EPIC team -- which is now the official name.

(I also did it with the acronym COSBY, but I can't give details without revealing my employer, which seems like a bad idea.)
posted by davejay at 12:29 AM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


*still giggling*

But sometimes you have to write that way else the guys signing the cheques don't add enough zeros...

Has anyone linked to the BuzzWord Generator yet? (or was that a different generational era?)

Please remember the Buzzword Profit Rule. The profits of any company shall be inversely proportional to the number of vague industry buzzwords used in its mission statement. Special profit deductions given for turning nouns into verbs, as in "productize."
posted by infini at 2:48 AM on January 11, 2013


Special profit deductions given for turning nouns into verbs, as in "productize."

-ize is so noughties. We won't productize our ideas going forward, just product them.
posted by flabdablet at 2:58 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


We'll producerate them, or I'll eat my insubstantial, beautiful words!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:03 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, fuck it, I'm gonna eat all those bastards up right now, and let all you mincing prescriptionists starve.

HA! Suck dictionary dustpuffs, people with whom I generally agree but have arbitrarily decided to mock for the purposes of humorous emphasis!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:09 AM on January 11, 2013


See the problem with using producerate them at my next meeting is that those guys call farmers "producers" and boy are they gonna be confused...

hmmmmmm
posted by infini at 3:22 AM on January 11, 2013


I read these two comments about three times before the right context sank in. For a brief moment, I _really_ wanted to know where you worked.

For anyone else who is puzzled, I spend my days in the toddler mines. There might not be gold in them thar hills, but quite often there's stinks in them thar pants.
posted by sonika at 4:48 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't know either, but I always thought it was a reference to pay toilets, which I assumed at some point in history must have cost a penny.

Hence the graffiti I saw in a stall in Leeds once:

"Here I sit broken hearted
Paid 2p and only farted."
posted by firstdrop at 7:16 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmmm...davejay, I may owe you a coffee retroactively. But since you got that laugh when you first pulled "this epic team" out of your....meeting...I'm not sure you met Rule #1.

I'll let theMetTalk hive mind decide: Judges, is davejay our winner, or is the game still on?
posted by misha at 7:36 AM on January 11, 2013


It is more fun if the game is still on. I'll see what I can do.
posted by davejay at 7:58 AM on January 11, 2013


Recently, my boss wanted to have a quick check-in about a project, but his shared office was occupied. So he asked me to join him for "a quickie in the breakroom". I sort of paused and implied what he had implied and he got embarassed and now he just talks to me at my desk.

I have worked in French Canada, and my francophone boss and I conversed about equally in French and English (I am anglo). Each of us made occasional errors in our respective second language. At one point when he was in the office and I was not, he was trying to set up a conference call involving the two of us and a third colleague who was also out in the field: "Maybe you and Jessica and I can have a three-way."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:10 AM on January 11, 2013


refresh: update (either as a verb or a noun). "Go ahead and refresh that now that we have the fourth quarter data." "Take a look at the January 8 refresh and tell me what you think."


this is absolutely used in this way. I have a friend who works in executive sales briefing, and she uses it even in her non-work life if she doesn't catch herself.
posted by KathrynT at 10:43 AM on January 11, 2013


Speaking of thieves cant, I'll take this as my chance to share Slang Expressions Commonly Used By Thieves, taken from Chapter 8 of the 5th ed. (1962) of Gross's Criminal Investigation.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:01 AM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not sure if this qualifies Misha but I once tiredly used the phrase "We're all slapping the same turkey on this" in a meeting, by which I meant "too many people all trying to access the same users in different departments" even though it doesn't even make sense as a metaphor. Everyone on my team laughed at me but it's stuck so far. When we have interdepartmental conflict its starting to become known as "turkey-slapping."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:16 PM on January 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


ricochet, to be fair you were in French Canada. Are you sure that was an error?
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:21 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Since my original will probably be deleted from the green for being too jokey:

If you've ideated a new or better workflow, you'd better get buy-in from key stakeholders offline before the huddle or you will get your idea shot down due to push-back. If you're golden, you can rest assured that you'll get easy buy-in from management, though the subject matter experts may not see the value added.

Don't get thrown under the bus! If you're not good at delivering on key deliverables and don't minimize your exposure by covering your ass, those failures will be captured in your team lead's metrics to be thrown in your face at your 360 annual performance management meeting, if not sooner in a corrective interview. If you're not in the club, you have to be even more careful or you'll be right-sized out the door.

Don't fret: everyone job-hops going forward in this new economy. Just look for a new job with a company that needs a guru or a team player using your friend-space. Your mentor can help, too. Just be careful of new start-ups that have a high burn rate of VC money.

Now I need to stop cyberloafing and put in some head-down time to finish this code.
posted by double block and bleed at 12:37 PM on January 11, 2013


Alas, still cyberloafing. And I work for myself!
posted by double block and bleed at 12:39 PM on January 11, 2013


Seems like chatfilter to me, honestly.
posted by Justinian at 1:16 PM on January 11, 2013


We have a postcard of a bus in our office that we swap around according to who's been run over the most during the day.
posted by arcticseal at 2:01 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Misha, there must be a mefi at the American Red Cross who thought of your game a while back. My favorite, of the many, many acronyms that the Red Cross (ARC) loves : AFR - accidental fecal release aka someone shit in the pool.

And that's one of the questions on the ARC lifeguard exam.
posted by raccoon409 at 3:06 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there a different acronym for PURPOSEFUL fecal release?
posted by sonika at 3:35 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's get the ball down lane with a real skip-flip and hit the pocket hard. I just hope we don't leave a smash nine.

What? I can't be the only one around here who works in the bowling industry. Really?

Guys?
posted by slogger at 5:48 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


ricochet, to be fair you were in French Canada. Are you sure that was an error?

You know, "French Canadian" sounds perfectly natural to me, but French Canada sounds like a made up place. Like a fictional state stretched between British Columbia and New Mexico and something.
posted by maryr at 8:25 PM on January 11, 2013


Is there a different acronym for PURPOSEFUL fecal release?

the word you are looking for is "toddler"
posted by elizardbits at 11:42 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Truth be told I am grateful to be on the sidelines safe from the impact of TPS reports.
posted by maggieb at 8:42 PM on January 13, 2013


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