Features NY Life — 20 July 2010

Have you had a chance to give the marketing group a heads up?  Have you gone down to sales to keep the ball rolling?  If you don’t get on it soon, we’re going to have to punt on this.  Does any of this make any sense to anyone?  Then why is this kind of language becoming so pervasive in the workplace?

Every single day at work, we’re asked to “reach out” to someone or to “touch base” with someone else.  What exactly does touching base mean?  Contacting someone and getting a “warm body” (that’s another one) on the phone?  If I’m not “touching base” with someone, I’m “huddling up” with someone else.  Or I need to “run it past” someone before we have to “ramp up” more of our efforts.  I’m either “placing a call” or I’m “dropping a line.”   I’m somehow trying to give someone a “heads up” just to keep some imaginary “ball rolling.” Otherwise I’ll have to “table” it or risk getting “push back.”

And the worst part about all of this inane dialogue is that it’s really addicting.  Before I knew it I was talking about figuring out a “takeaway” because I didn’t know the answer to something when I couldn’t “get a hold” of someone else.  I was touching base and reaching out left and right.  I assume that I wanted to sound more important and more professional, regardless if what I was saying made even the slightest bit of sense.  Have you ever offered to take something “offline” or claim that you had to “circle back” with someone?  THESE STATEMENTS DON’T EVEN MEAN ANYTHING!  I guarantee I’m not alone.  What are some of the more ridiculous ones that you’ve heard of that I may have missed?

“I tried to touch base with the person I reached out to yesterday, and if I can’t circle back with them by tomorrow, we may need to punt on this just to keep the ball rolling.  Give me a heads up if you think I should table this for now, or if you think I should huddle up with Joe to ramp up our efforts before we decide to talk offline and discuss potential takeaways.”  We sound ridiculous.

-  Jane Van Arsdale

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(4) Readers Comments

  1. You might miss your bottom line.

  2. Ace your right on with this commentary . It seems like an essential component of any job description although it is rarely ever spelled out.
    Its called office politics and requires one to always cover one’s ass. That’s the way the office game is played and one becomes very astute at working and playing the game.
    Its an interesting perspective and I believe u have hit on it remarkably well and expressed it as it is presently part of the everyday work component.

  3. Loved it! My place is big on “value adds” and acronyms. They actually have a directory called “Alphabet Soup: Acronyms Explained”…a list of 821 company used acronyms!!!

  4. ‘How bout you grab some time on my calendar and we can discuss it then’ – NO you ass, how bout you tell me when you’re available or we can just discuss it now, you know, while we’re already talking to each other…