I have been holding this in for a really long time because I don’t want to offend anyone who says these phrases. But I just can’t withhold this blog entry any longer. I just read one of these phrases, and it brought on this flashback from a prior place of work where one of my colleagues just LOVED most of the following phrases. And believe me, that job was truly already sufficiently irritating and toxic without any of these stinking phrases being tossed in your ear every hour or so. But I actually think any and all workplaces make use of these phrases abundantly, and you know what? I’m taking a stand. I won’t say it aloud to anyone, but if you read this blog entry, please, please consider not saying the following words anymore. (I know you just now thought to yourself, “Are you serious? You’re going to actually try to tell me what to say or not to say?” Noooo, I’m not. No one listens to me, so I feel free to just say whatever I want. See what I mean?) Here are the phrases:
Annoying Phrase #1: Reach out.
Example: You’re right, Holly. We need that speaker at our conference. Reach out, and see if he’d be willing to attend…
Hu? Reach out to him? I have this image of me running with my arms open wide, ready to embrace this speaker with all my might. No, no, no, I will not “reach out” to him. In fact, let’s just get this out in the open right now–I don’t “reach out” to anyone. I will “reach inward” and figure out how to convincingly ask this speaker to come to our conference. I will call the speaker. I will email the speaker. I might even send the speaker a letter. But not if you use the phrase “reach out” when you ask me to do so.
Annoying Phrase #2: We/You/I wear many hats.
Example: In this office, we wear many hats. Sometimes you’ll need to put on your “technical hat” to troubleshoot software. At other times, you need to wear your “customer service hat” to…
Oh please. If I hear one more person explain a place of business using a hat metaphor, I’m going to stab myself in both eyes. If a task is described to me in terms of a hat, I will do the exact same thing that I always did as my parents or anyone else told me to “put on a hat” as I ran outside to play in the snow or rain–I will totally ignore the speaker. I’m not trying to be a smarty pants. I’m simply trying to enforce my need to hear sentences that don’t sound stupid.
Annoying phrase #3: Let’s be transparent.
Example: Holly, we need to get Mary to change something that she doesn’t want to change. We need to make this happen. Let’s be transparent about how we communicate with Mary about this.
No, I’m not going to be transparent, and you aren’t either. If we are transparent, Mary will never listen to us. That’s why we should all remember to be non-transparent and somewhat manipulative. Cause that’s how you get things done with lazy, passive aggressive workers like Mary who doesn’t like change and who refuses to do her work! Being “transparent” won’t help. You know what will? Disguising what you need in a way that motivates Mary! But guess not–that’s not transparent.
The other really annoying thing about this phrase is that when people say, “We’re very transparent in this workplace,” what that usually means is, “We’re all liars. We’re using the word transparent because we like to use buzz words, so you’re going to hear a LOT of annoying phrases if you take this job.” People who use a lot of buzz words like to talk a lot. People who like to talk a lot sometimes don’t like to do a lot. Oh, wait, that totally describes me. Well, at least I don’t sit around talking about how “transparent” I am and how “transparent” you should be. In my book, that alone is reason enough to hire me on the spot.
Annoying Phrase #4: Team player.
Example: Oh no, Holly, look! Your lazy coworker isn’t doing her job. Be a team player and help her, fast. This way, something will actually get done around here. Raise? No, you won’t get one of those now or ever. Just be a team player like we asked, ok? Thanks, Holly.
The only saving grace about the phrase team player is that it’s over-used to such an astonishing degree that when people say it, my mind automatically tunes it out. Often, this phrase is used in conjunction with other phrases like “wear this hat” or “that hat,” taking my mind from tune out mode to shut down mode. Who thought this thing up anyway? First of all, a team player is a person on a team playing, not working. So the metaphor is just dumb because it means the opposite of what it’s supposed to convey.
Next, this phrase is always–almost without exception–used in a situation where the only “player” expected to work is the employee being told to be a team player. This is because the other employees on the “team” (i.e., the other so-called “team players,” bear with me, these phrases sound dumber every time you say or write them) don’t do anything but take long smoking breaks and surf the internet, except for their three-hour lunchbreaks when they vigorously shuffle trying to fit their shopping and gym time into the workday. So that one “team player,” who is usually me and perhaps you too, is expected to pick up the slack of all the other colleagues. In essence, what this means is that the phrase “team player” should actually be substituted with the more accurate phrase “the only person in the department who actually works.” It’s almost always like this. Therefore the phrase “team player” is stupid.
Annoying Phrase #5: We promote from within.
Example: You will have lots of opportunities in this company because we promote from within.
Wait, that’s not an annoying phrase per se…Rather it’s an annoying sentence and an annoying lie. Let’s proceed nonetheless. First of all, this sentence is lacking in basic grammar because “within” is a dangling preposition. I can’t STAND those!!! But more importantly, notice that this annoying phrase leaves off the most important word–the one that should follow within. They promote from within WHAT? You need that word to know what they mean. Because in my experience, companies that say they do all this “promoting from within” don’t promote from within the company–rather, they promote from within their imaginations. Yeah. (Ha ha! Those companies just got so owned by my crafty world play. I considered writing, “They promote from within their lies” but that joke wouldn’t really make sense.)
Okay, so, moving along.
Annoying phrase #5: Engage with
Example: You will engage with stakeholders and key clients.
Let’s not say things like that. Engage with is a phrase that needs a looooot of clarification. If someone tells me I’m going to be “engaging with” stakeholders, I get a picture of a job that I simply refuse to do (on a moral basis). No, I will not engage with stakeholders. I will communicate with them. Is this what you meant? Then use that wording, please. Unless you mean I’ll be dating them or kissing them, because frankly, that’s the picture the phrase “engage with” paints, and for your information, I’m not interested in dating right now, especially your weird stakeholders and mean clients. Thanks.
Okay, I have to now get back to my work.
OH, should I update you on my job? I am freelancing. So I’m not on the clock. I have a deadline, and as long as I meet it, no one cares when I write or where or why or how. No really, as long as it’s done by computer, not by hand. I’m really enjoying freelancing because I almost never hear workplace buzz words anymore. Also, I don’t have hot bosses who I develop crushes on. Nor do I have…Oh I’ll stop being silly. I gotta get to work. I do have four mouths to feed, after all!
Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!