Cor­po­rate bab­ble, bat­ter­ies in­cluded

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Prime Space -

THE cor­po­rate world is of­ten lam­pooned for both the blunt­ness and the dou­ble- speak of its lan­guage. Down­siz­ing’’ is a eu­phemism for mass sack­ings. The term ‘‘ pre­vi­ous life’’ al­lows you to re­fer to a for­mer em­ployer with­out ac­tu­ally hav­ing to men­tion their name.

And from PAs the world over the phrase he’s in a meet­ing’’ might mean he’s in a meet­ing, but just as likely to mean he doesn’t want to take any calls. The dead give­away that he re­ally wasn’t in a meet­ing is when you say who is call­ing and the PA says, Oh, wait a minute, the meet­ing has just ended’’.

And of course you pre­tend to be pleased that the meet­ing has just ended and she pre­tends to catch him.

Just once I’d like the PA to say, ‘‘ I was ly­ing — he was re­ally here all along’’.

The fur­ther up the cor­po­rate lad­der, the bet­ter the PAs are at this shame­less cha­rade. The cor­po­rate world needs a term to de­scribe this process of not- quite- ly­ing.

At what point does ‘‘ bend­ing the truth’’ slide into the chasm of

mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion’’? Is mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion the same as de­cep­tion?

Clearly cor­po­rates need a word or a phrase to de­scribe the ‘‘ white lies’’ that PAs must tell to pro­tect the se­nior ex­ec­u­tive for whom they work.

I sus­pect that PAs also ex­pe­ri­ence a lit­tle rush to the head — sim­i­lar to a hit of nico­tine — ev­ery time they de­liver the he’s in a meet­ing’’ line and get away with it.

Is this a power kick or is it merely the self- sat­is­fac­tion of fend­ing off yet an­other would- be time waster?

Re­gard­less, I want PAs to know that I know they are ly­ing.

And I also want them to know that the only rea­son I don’t call them to ac­count is be­cause I am too po­lite.

But it’s not just within the of­fice that the cor­po­rate lex­i­con is bereft of words, terms and phrases.

Busi­ness travel is such a mod­ern phe­nom­e­non that there are no words to de­scribe ev­ery­day oc­cur­rences and feel­ings. Yes, feel­ings.

For ex­am­ple, you are trav­el­ling in­ter­state tak­ing calls through­out the day. By 4pm you no­tice the bat­tery on your mo­bile is down to its last bar.

But you are ex­pect­ing an im­por­tant call. Like the melt­ing of the Wicked Witch of the West you too can feel ev­ery ounce of your con­nec­tiv­ity slowly seep­ing away.

Soon you will be alone, iso­lated and con­demned to that hideous cor­po­rate limbo which is the world with­out a charged phone.

Sud­denly that im­por­tant call comes and you think you have enough bat­tery to get through the con­ver­sa­tion.

But, hor­ror of hor­rors, it’s not the call you were ex­pect­ing — it’s an­other call. You are now in a dilemma.

Are you pre­pared to spend pre­cious bat­tery min­utes on this per­son?

If not, how do you get rid of them quickly and po­litely: Sorry, I don’t want to waste my bat­tery on you. Go away.’’

Could I also say this moral dilemma is mag­ni­fied if it’s your wife call­ing.

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