Hello everyone! I’m in a pretty good mood today. I’m in Durango, Colorado, about to present at the college here, but I got in early enough to go skiing for half a day. It’s gorgeous, and my life seems to be heading in a happy direction. Which of course bodes ill for this post, since I’m just not sure how I’m going to channel the proper amount of righteous indignation to come up with a topic.
Thankfully, a friend of mine has been kind enough to provide a topic for me. She recently sat in a meeting where (as in common in meetings) nobody spoke any real words. Instead they loaded up the truck with pseudo-fancy terms that do an excellent job of masking the fact that nobody has any idea what anybody else is talking about. All hail the jargon fog!
So, in honor of that concept, I’d like to share a few terms with you today that will help you survive any meeting in which you feel like you are completely over your head. Whatever you say will still probably not make any sense, but at least you’ll get your coworkers to nod thoughtfully as though they actually understood you.
Circle the wagons – There’s nothing like a phrase that literally has to be explained to everyone under 30. “You see, Jim, back in the frontier days, when a wagon train was under threat of attack, the wagonmaster – yeah, that’s what they called him, I read it somewhere once – the wagonmaster would organize all of the wagons into a circle for a better defensive position. So think of our products as wagons, and the market forces are, you know, like a tribe of barbarians that want to attack our wagons. You follow me?”
Sea change – This literally makes absolutely no sense to anybody. It actually derives from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” but if any of you can explain what it actually means, I will mail you a box of cookies and a signed, framed photograph of me wrestling a boar. (Which I happen to have, just so you know. Seriously, you can Photoshop anything these days.)
Piggyback – Nothing pleases me quite like the idea of a fully grown adult riding piggyback on a colleague’s shoulders. Inexplicably, the phrase “I’d like to piggyback off of what Sally just said” is simultaneously considered more astute than “I’d like to add to what Sally just said” AND is somehow not considered sexual harassment. Really, Todd, you’d like to piggyback on Sally there? Sounds like a surefire trip to HR to me.
Any noun used as a verb – The one that comes to mind right now is ‘dialogue,’ but you can do this with literally any noun, and so you should. Be creative! Examples: “I need you to rabbit that report to me ASAP” or “Let’s table this topic for a minute and telescope over to the next item on the agenda.”
There are a billion more here, people, but I’m going to go do something else now. Feel free to share your favorites, though! Seriously. Do a big giant brain dump right here so we can get out of our silos.
Brain dump. Nobody sees a potentially inappropriate connotation there? Nobody? Because I sure do.