Translating Corporate Speak

bottomless-pit.jpgQuestions:  Everybody has them.  Answers:  Some people have ’em, some don’t, some don’t care.  Personally, I don’t care.  When it comes to questions and answers, I like to take the apathetic approach, which is why I have opinions instead of answers.  A former boss of mine from long ago liked using the phrase learned apathy.  Basically it means the longer you are exposed to something, the more you just don’t care about it.  I guess it’s like the phrase familiarity breeds contempt.  I have a person in my long-ago past who used that term, too.  She was my girlfriend at the time, describing our relationship.

Buh-bye, see yah, I don’t care.

So, what does it all mean?  Well, one of the most idiotic things in our lives is we go to work each day, get paid, and are expected to make a contribution at work in exchange for that paycheck.  For some reason, ownership and management expect to hire you and then you have to uphold your end of the bargain by being smart, conscientious, making important decisions and other ridiculous things.  The workplace is a joke.  We should all just get paid for doing nothing.  After all, this is America, right?  There is nothing wrong with being lazy, unproductive and flat-out stupid while some bloated rich guy pays you a salary. Politicians get away with that every day!

Sometimes, though, the workplace can be a challenge.  There are always buzz words and acronyms you have to know, policies and procedures you have to follow, and you know, you have to produce something, whether physically or mentally.  It’s a sham, but for some reason we are all expected to do it if we want certain things for ourselves and our families.  The corporate speak is much different from normal speak.  So I’d like to clear up any confusion and offer a guide, a translation, and cut through all of the BS of some of the ridiculous corporate speak you will most likely encounter as you plow your way through every work day hoping to make it to Saturday so you can be a normal person again.

“It is what it is.”
This means, “I have no idea how to explain this so I’m going to use an idiotic statement to cover up my lack of knowledge on this subject I should know something about.”  When someone uses this term, simply substitute it with, “I am an idiot” or “They pay me to know this but I lied on my resume” or “I’m sorry, next topic please?  I love using the phrase ‘It is what it is'”.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Translation: When the sh$t hits the fan, management is going to quickly spring into action by running very far away in the opposite direction as quickly as they possibly can, throw you under the bus and hang you out to dry.  It’s simple Management 101 and, it is what it is.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…”
This means no one listened to this person the first twenty times he or she said something.  The first time they said it, the second time, the third, etc. fell on deaf ears because people don’t listen to this person. They obviously have a track record of just spewing garbage out of their mouth just because they like to hear themself talk.  Just give up and move on, and realize, frankly, it is what it is.

“I’m going to have to ask you to work overtime tonight.”
This one is really obvious.  What your boss is really saying is, “I mismanaged this entire project and because of that, you have to pay the price because tonight is my bowling night.”  Or, “You have to get my butt out of this sling so I can look good at the next manager’s meeting because truthfully, I lied on my resume to get this job.  It is what it is.”

“You have to work smarter, not harder.”
This means, “I am extremely dumb and utterly useless so you have to be smarter than you normally are to make up for my own stupidity.  I told them we’d have two week’s worth of work done in two days so suck it up, it is what it is.  Get busy.”

“This is a great opportunity for you.”
Oh no…you already know what this means.  It means, “Bend over and grab your ankles.  No one else wants this project so now it’s yours.  Good luck, you’re on your own, no one’s going to help you, we’re short-staffed as it is, and…it is what it is.”

“Ownership is concerned about our operating expenses.”
If you’ve heard this one before, it’s because your boss is one of those types who believes throwing fifty unqualified people at a task is better than paying three experts top dollar to get the job done right, on time, and on budget.  Managers of this type are those who don’t understand what it is you really do and how you do it.  These types are also the ones who don’t drink alcohol at company holiday parties.  Oh well, it is what it is, I suppose.

“Can you take a few minutes and clean out the refrigerator?”
Strangely enough, this one means just what it says.  Because you work with a bunch of inconsiderate dim wits, the refrigerator ends up being stuffed with half-empty cartons of milk, styrofoam take-out containers with one bite of food in them, Tupperware containers that never seem to get closed correctly, and fruit.  All of this stuff is allowed to ferment and spoil for weeks at a time so when the refrigerator door is opened, you are immediately smacked in the face by a stench that is so pungent it makes your eyes boil, your hair curl and it renders you impotent.  But the unbelievably stupid thing is, as you are dumping out the chunky stuff from the milk carton and throwing away the furry fruit, you can’t understand why YOU have to clean out the refrigerator because YOU don’t even use the damn thing! It is what it is.

“Richard in Accounting says there’s a glitch in the software.”
This means [the] Dick in the Accounting department tripped over the power cord for his PC on the way out the door yesterday to get to his bowling night, ripping the plug out of the power strip on the floor in his cube.  And damn it, you should always smack anyone that uses the term “glitch” after 1983.  Rule number one for any Help Desk employee is to jokingly ask the user if their computer is plugged in to an electrical outlet and turned ON.  You would be shocked to know how many times people fail that test after reporting their stupid “glitch”.  It is what it is.

“Can you sit in on this conference call with me?”
Oh, you’re doomed.  This means a few things.  First, it means the person who was supposed to be on the call doesn’t know what they’re doing, what they’re talking about, or even why they are employed.  Second, it means, “Congratulations, the entire project is now yours!  You’re going to do great! This is a great opportunity for you!” It is what it is.

“Sorry, we’re going to have to lay you off.”
This means your interview for your job was set up by a recruiter who hadn’t met his or her monthy placement quota yet.  Recruiters are known for trying to fill positions with people who aren’t actually qualified for the job – they just need to reach their quota.  After all, that is what recruiters do – they waste people’s time for the sake of their own commission.  There’s nothing you can do about that, which means…sorry…it is what it is.

“Good job!”
This really means, “You made me look great in front of the other managers!  Now I’ll get that pay increase I wanted while you get nothing and have to work smarter, work overtime, do what I tell you to do at a lousy salary AND continue making me look good.  You can keep your job for the next few months!  You’re really going to go places here!”

It is what it is.


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