Translating boss-speak

Jan 02 2008 by Print This Article

Having trouble understanding your boss? You're not alone, because managers the world over use phrases that, to the rest of us, make little - if any - sense. So if you're getting confused by boss-speak, give's Boss-to-English Translator a look.

The article is based on a great little book entitled Cube Monkeys: A Handbook for Surviving the Office Jungle, which will strike a cord with every downtrodden cubicle inhabitant.

"Great job on that report!" your boss really means, "I'm taking credit for your work."

"Let me give you some broadstroke ideas you can fill in the rest" actually means "I still haven't learned how to create and Excel document."

"Headquarters has assured me we will not be affected by the merger" translates to "you are going to be fired."

"I'm not sure if what you are suggesting is in alignment with our core competencies" means "what exactly are do we do again?"

"I hate to the bearer of bad news" means in ordinary English "disappointing you is the only pleasure I have left in my dead-end, crappy job."

The article goes on to provide about a dozen more translations. The authors of the article and subsequent book advise that you should cut out the advice and keep it handy, especially before you head into that next big company-wide meeting. So maybe now you'll finally be able to understand exactly what your boss is trying to tell you.


Older Comments

This is just another example of cynicism masquerading as comedy. Worse still they might really mean it. Perpetuating the myth that 'all bosses are liars' disrespects the boss (who is after all a person trying to do a job, just like their employees). Many bosses these days actually mean what they say and make a real effort to communicate with their employees. This kind of 'cleverness' just takes us backward.

Greg Australia

In my opinion, from time time to time everyone (not just managers) uses phrases that make little sense or are mildly offensive. In my experience, this is particularly true for people with a technical sensibility.