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How To Talk The Talk

Work is always fascinating. It’s probably the best place to learn most of life’s skills (read: lying without getting caught). But what is even more important is that you need to learn how to speak the language at work. Seriously, there should be a course in colleges on how to read between the lines when it comes to office lingo. It is so twisted that it’ll probably take you ages before you know what the boss/ colleague is saying. Here are some new words that my friends and I have added to our dictionaries in our short time in offices.

> It’s your first day at work and you show up in sparkling new clothes and right on time.

What they say: Welcome! Please make yourself comfortable and get acquainted with the team.
What they mean: I haven’t got the time to talk to you. Find your friends yourself.

> The boss finally introduces you to the team when he finds the time.

What they say: We are very flexible and informal. We believe in having fun on the job
What they mean: You come late only once. Next time it happens, you are out!

> OK, so you’ve moved around a little and found some new friends (or at least someone who will tolerate your presence). You fit in to your new job and everything is hunky dory for a few days. You then start digging around as to why the previous guy/girl left (though to your advantage). There’ll always be an odd one who will tell it like it is.

“He had a fight with the boss and he left.” The others though, will still be careful around you. You’re still new right?

What they will say: He/she decided to explore new career avenues.
What they mean: He didn’t know what to do here. So he left.

> Anyway, it’s none of your business why they left. Moving on. The boss calls you for a meeting.

What they say: Let’s sit together and brainstorm.
What they mean: Let’s sit together. You give the ideas. I will take the credit for them.

> There isn’t much you can do about it. That’s how (work) life goes. After some time on the job, the boss calls you into his cabin.

What they say: How are you finding the work? Don’t hesitate to come to me for anything.
What he means: I hope you know what to do. If you don’t, don’t come to me.

> One of my friends actually heads a small core team. So, he got called by his boss. Here is how the conversation went…

Boss: How’s it going? I’m very impressed with the results.

Friend: Thank you, sir.

Boss: Now, we actually wanted to reward you guys based on your performances. So, will you do the honours for your team?

The alarm bells started ringing for my friend. What it meant was that he had to do the dirty work of bringing to the big man’s notice, who was good and who was a dungball. Here is what he submitted for his report.

What he wrote: Brilliant. An absolutely amazing worker, he is perhaps the most essential part of the team.

What he meant: The same thing. No twists here!
What he wrote: He is an asset to the team.
What he meant: He is useless and cannot fit in elsewhere. That’s why he is here.
What he wrote: Excellent teamwork. He is always an added advantage.
What he meant: He knows how to avoid work. I must learn from him.
What he wrote: He co-ordinate really well and his fine tuning skills are excellent.

What he meant: He is IR Baboon personified and can be trusted with no responsibilities. We just keep him to do our dirty work.

> Lastly, here is something you need to know which will really help you make some (real) progress with people (professionally) on the phone and not be treated like BPO employees.

What they say: Give me your contact details and I’ll let you know as soon as possible.
What they mean: I shall slam this phone down and forget that you ever existed. Stop bothering me and let me go back to what I was doing (reading comics).

The other words that you need to know to survive the corporate jungle are task force (overworked, underpaid guys), competitive salary (just enough to keep you here) and multi-tasking (ruining many tasks at once).

So, armed with this new information, you should be totally ready to handle those “brainstorming sessions”.

Meanwhile, if you have some queries, do let me know your contact details and I’ll let you know as soon as possible.

– Saurabh Datar

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