Reaching out to jargon haters

The management speak that makes us want to drill down into our own heads

Is there anybody out there who claims to like office jargon? Straw poll 100 people and every single one will claim to be an ardent devotee of straight-talking. Half the fun of watching The Apprentice (if there is still a drop of pleasure to be wrung from watching the same events unfold series after series) is laughing at how idiotic intelligent people can sound when they use phrases they think make them sound more professional.

Yet offices are still riddled with management speak and pointless euphemisms. How many times a week do people “reach out” to you to give you a “heads up” about “running an idea up the flagpole?”

Author Steven Poole has released a new book, Who Touched Base in My Thought Shower? A Treasury of Unbearable Office Jargon, discussing some of the low-lights of this dismal side-effect of office culture, including unforgivable nuggets like: “Let’s put this on the radiator and see if it melts” (see opposite for translation).

Here are a selection of Poole’s suggestions, a few particular bugbears from the City A.M. team, along with our explanations of what they actually mean. Brace yourself.

A Treasury of Unbearable Office Jargon by Steven Poole will be published by Sceptre at £9.99 on 31 October 2013.

LET’S PUT IT ON THE RADIATOR AND SEE IF IT MELTS...
Really means: let’s see if the public hate this or not before doing any more work on it

WHEN WILL THIS PROJECT BE READY TO ROLL OUT?
Really means: can I have this work please, it was due ages ago

I'M REACHING OUT TO YOU...
Really means: hello, I have a favour to ask

LET’S HAVE A THOUGHT-SHOWER
Really means: the more meetings we can squeeze in, the less actual work we have to do today

THIS SETS ALARM BELLS RINGING
Really means: this is obviously rubbish. What were you thinking?

WHAT IS THE DELIVERY FOOTPRINT?
Really means: how on earth are we going to get this finished in time?

LET’S WORK OUT A ROADMAP FOR THIS PROJECT
Really means: let’s have some meetings instead of just setting a deadline

BLUE SKY THINKING
Really means: I’m out of ideas. Does anybody else have any ideas? At all?

I’M AWAY ON ANNUAL LEAVE
Really means: I’m too important to take holidays

AT THE END OF THE DAY...
Really means: I’m right. Stop arguing with me.

I’M ACTIONING THIS
Really means: I think I’m very important and I want this done

LET’S WORK THIS OUT IN GRANULAR DETAIL (OR, EVEN WORSE) LET’S DRILL DOWN AND SEE WHAT WE FIND
Really means: someone work out what the hell this means. I don’t understand it

LET’S PARK THAT IDEA
Really means: that’s a stupid idea, what were you thinking?

WE NEED TO BACKFILL TONY’S POSITION
Really means: we have fired Tony and now we need to hire someone who can actually do the job

I WANT THIS WORK FINISHED BY CLOSE OF PLAY
Really means: do this today