Corporate babble, batteries included
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.