A Dictionary for the Shafted: business jargon

At last! The third installment of the Great Dictionary! It’s easy to mock banal business jargon but there are reasons an authoritarian regime will try and manipulate language. A common trick of dictators is to cloak horrible deeds in the most banal language possible. Another trick is to use language to brush over your constant failures…

Outside the box: We spend 99% of our time living in a box. We must spend a lot of time talking about getting outside the box to disguise the fact that our organisation loves the box. Do not mention that we live in a box.

Reach out: Our organisation exists in a weird social bubble that helps us justify (to each other) everything we do. We’ve hit bad luck and now have to talk to and justify our appalling decisions to someone else. Ugh.

Stakeholders: We are going to talk about individuals and large, wealthy organisations as though they are equal. So we must have the same name for them. We must do this because we don’t want to admit that while weighing up the needs of our ‘stakeholders’ we are effectively pitting Manchester United against Ashford Sunday Five-a-Side Team. Manchester United always wins, in case you were in any doubt, but the point is, we give them all a level playing field.

Synergy: We’ve found a new way to be parasitic on someone else’s work. We’ll pretend that they benefit as much as we do.

Added value: We did something that makes a profit. Not for you, pleb.

Game-changer: Someone has been doing something better than us. Quick! Copy it so we can look competitive!

Blue sky thinking: Let’s think ever-so-slightly more imaginatively than before. No, not that imaginatively. Stop it! IT’S ALL GONE TOO BLUE! Quick, do something pointless and call it blue!

Heads up: A bit like ‘alerting’ someone to something, but purposely banal so as to ensure it doesn’t cause anyone to panic and think that (a) we are in the shit and everyone is about to lose their jobs or (b) they’re onto us.

Singing from the same hymn-sheet: We must ensure ideological uniformity is enforced across the organisation. We don’t want our employees to notice how worthless we are so we’d better quash any dissent to our fuck-you business model and ensure that no employees accidentally make us look bad by accidentally doing something. Stay upbeat!

Dialoguing around an issue: You are a problem. We’re going to sack you. Let’s talk about it. That’s enough now.

Pushing the envelope: We’re doing some work for once. As the economic organising unit of capitalism we are supposed to be dynamic and competitive and innovative. But we need a special term for when we actually do this.

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