It’s time we take an honest look at the politically correct bullshit expressions that are constantly being used in the corporate world, in order to cover up the real meaning that might bruise the fragile egos of certain employees. At Wolf Leaders Academy we like to think that we’re strong enough to handle the truth behind the corporate bullshit, so here we go…
Used to comment after you have revealed one of your ideas that you find particularly innovative, or when you have just stated your opinion on a topic.
What it means: “Frankly, this idea is crap” – or, no offence, but: “You are crap.” In fact, it may mean both.
How to react: Build on it! “Great to hear that you find my idea interesting, tell me more?” Just watch as the speaker gets more and more uncomfortable.
“It’s too soon to tell.”
Usually pronounced when a new business has just started or a product has just been launched.
What it means: “Based on the information available, this is going to be a shitty launch.”
How to react: Run back to your desk and start shifting investments from the new launch to a more secure project. You’ll be thanked for this in a few weeks’ time.
“What’s the message track?”
Used every time there is a major crisis and an update needs to be given to the external world.
What it means: “How do we post-rationalise what’s happening so it looks like we planned for this?”
How to react: Stick to the message track. You don’t want to get fired, do you?
“Let me build on that…”
Pronounced by your boss as you finish the speech you rehearsed for the past three days.
What it really means: “Forget what he or she just said, I will now give you a totally different message which you will religiously follow.”
How to react: Two possibilities here. First: as your boss ends, repeat “Let me build on that…” and keep talking about your own plans for the next ten minutes (we never tried that ourselves but, hey, it could be really funny). Second, which we in fact recommend: nod and frantically take notes, this is your boss after all; next time make sure you pre-align your message!
“I’m happy to talk this.”
Used to close emails that include very clear instructions.
What it really means: “Just do what I wrote and nobody gets hurt.”
How to react: If you passionately disagree and you’ve decided that this is the one battle you want to take on, go and talk face to face with the person and put forward your view. Otherwise forget about it and do as you’re told.
“Just to make sure we are on the same page…”
Pronounced by one of your colleagues in a large meeting where you really need to shine.
What it really means: “We are not on the same page.”
How to react: This is a frontal attack on your position; you’d better have prepared the reasons why you believe in your idea. See also the advice of point 10, below.
“Let’s take a step back…”
Often used by your boss when you’ve been talking for a while during an important meeting.
What it really means: “You’re getting completely lost in the details, let me re-focus the discussion on what’s actually important.”
How to react: Listen, nod, and then try to take back the lead of the conversation or your boss will hijack the meeting and you’ll lose your opportunity to show off your great work.
“Let’s take this offline.”
Pronounced by your boss in a meeting where the discussion has somehow veered completely off from the main topic.
What it really means: “No one gives a shit about what you’re talking about.” Or, alternatively, “I completely disagree with what you’re saying but I don’t want to create a scene.”
How to react: Agree and if it’s really important then make sure that you do bring up the point with that person in a separate session.
“It’s a challenging situation.”
Used to describe the performance of a brand or a business.
What it really means: “We’re in deep shit.” Basically, aliens attacking your headquarters would be defined as “challenging”.
How to react: Come up with three possible approaches that could at least lower the level of shit by a few inches.
“This is amazing but…”
Pronounced after you presented an idea you’re really proud of.
What it really means: “This is in no way amazing. Now let me list the reasons why I don’t like this idea…”
How to react: Instead of thinking that this person just doesn’t get your genius, listen to their feedback and see if you can still address it. Then think about how you could have brought this person on board before – smart leaders are able to anticipate this kind of reaction and make people think they were the ones who came up with an idea in the first place!
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