What People Say At Work Vs What They Mean

99 office clichés, translated.

Photo illustration by Matt Tucker, Martina Barbist/Thinkstock/EDHAR/Shutterstock

1. “Breakout session” – We will sit in a room and repeat very dull ideas.
2. “As a team we need to break out of our individual silos” – We all hate each other.
3. “Let’s action this” – I don’t understand the difference between nouns and verbs.
4.“I’ll inbox you” – I’m a bit of a twat.
5. “Let’s take this offline” – I’m a massive twat.
6. “We wish X the best of luck in her new job” – Burn in hell, traitor.
7. “It’s been great working with you guys, and I’ll really miss this team” – So long, suckers.
8. “Our model is scalable” – The company will either grow, or it’ll shrink. One of the two.
9. “Skyrocketing revenues” – Negligible profits.
10. “Sharp uptick” – Tiny, almost imperceptible increase.
11. CC – I am passive aggressively alerting as many senior people as possible to your fuck-up.
12. [On the phone] “Could you put this in an email?” – …Which I will ignore.
13. “I’m going freelance” – I miss daytime TV.
14. “We are tax-efficient” – We avoid paying tax.
15. “I’m an SEO expert” – I know how to put keywords in a headline.
16. “I’m an analytics expert” – I’ve got a Google Analytics login.
17. “I’m a social media expert” – I’m a bullshitter.
18. “Ninja” – Douchebag.
19. “Community manager” – Person who writes the tweets.
20. “I’ve decided to step down” – I’ve been given a massive pay-off.
21. “We just had different visions for where the company was going” – They found out I’d been embezzling funds.
22. “In this brainstorm, there are no bad ideas” – This brainstorm will be nothing but bad ideas.
23. “Moving on to pastures new” – Fired.
24. “We’re restructuring the company” – Everyone is fired.
25. “We’ve brought in a team of consultants” – Everyone is about to be fired.
26. “You’re fired” – I think I’m Alan Sugar.
27. “By mutual agreement…” – The boss thinks…
28. “It’s time for a fresh challenge” – I literally couldn’t stand being in the same room as you a day longer.
29. “I can’t wait to get started!” – I actually can, but everyone has to say this, right?
30. “I’m taking a career break” – I will be sitting in my pants watching Jeremy Kyle and crying for the next three months.
31. “I’ve been offered a fantastic opportunity elsewhere” – I’ve been offered more money.
32. “Got time for a chat?” – Prepare for the worst.
33. “Can I have a word?” – We will have many, many, many, many, many words.
34. “Can I have a quick word?” – I don’t have anything to discuss, I just like putting the fear of God into you.
35. “Have you got a minute?” – You’ve got a minute.
36. “We need to develop a more agile workflow” – We should probably stop titting about on Facebook all day.
37. “Quick pint after work” – Several pints after work, and quite possibly some shots too.
38. “Merger” – Excuse to fire everybody.
39. “Following the restructuring, X will be taking on some additional responsibilities” – We have chosen our fall guy and are setting them up to take all the blame for our fuck-ups.
40. “MORNING TEAM!” – Everyone hates me.
41. “Exciting new position” – It isn’t an exciting position.
42. “I’ve been recently reading the biography of Steve Jobs” – I am not Steve Jobs and never will be.
43. “Core values” – Making money.
44. “This is a really great opportunity for our business” – We’re sooooooooo screwed.
45. “I don’t think there’s ever been a more exciting time to be working in this field” – We’re soooooooooo, sooooooooooooooo screwed.
46. “The Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ is a combination of the symbols for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’” – We are so profoundly screwed you wouldn’t believe.
47. “Company awayday” – Must we?
48. “I know how to code” – I know how to italicise things in HTML.
49. “Let’s park this for now” – Let’s never mention this ever again.
50. “Welcome to the company, lovely to meet you!” – Get promoted above me and I will cut you.
51. “I’m an experienced manager” – I bought a book from WHSmith on being a manager.
52. “I’m working from home today” – I’m not doing any work today.
53. “I’ve got the lurgy” – I’m hungover.
54. “I’ve got man flu” – I’m hungover.
55. “I’ve got a doctor’s appointment” – I’m hungover.
56. “We should run this past legal” – We should have someone else to blame in case this goes tits up.
57. “It’s been a challenging year” – We’re totally fucked.
58. “We’re seeking new revenue streams” – We’re broke.
59. “We’re restructuring our financing” – We’re broke but not ready to admit it.
60. “The economic outlook is uncertain” – The economic outlook is apocalyptic.
61. “The company is perfectly positioned to meet the tough economic challenges ahead” – The end is nigh.
62. “It’s been a great year” – For our shareholders.
63. “The success we’ve had is down to every single one of you” – We’re all getting bonuses. You’re not.
64. “The door to my office is always open” – I wish facilities would bloody fix it.
65. “Happy birthday!” – We’ve never spoken. Why am I signing this?
66. “Pub after work? Can’t, I’ve got plans I’m afraid” – I’ve spent quite enough time with you people for one day.
67. “Anyone fancy a cup of tea?” – Offer strictly limited to the three people in my immediate vicinity.
68. “Nipping to the shops, anyone want anything?” – Within reason. I’m not your fucking dogsbody.
69. “What are you eating there? Looks nice” – I’m on the 5:2 diet and I’m so hungry and miserable I could scream.
70. “Cycled to work, eh? Good for you” – You smug bastard.
71. “I want more responsibility” – I want a pay rise.
72. “I’m giving a presentation” – I’ve put some boring graphs together in PowerPoint.
73. “In my last company…” – What I’m about to say is totally irrelevant.
74. “Team player” – Has basic social skills, is not an outright sociopath.
75. “This is beyond my remit” – I can’t be arsed to deal with this.
76. “I’ll take your ideas on board” – I’ll steal your ideas and take credit for them.
77. “He’s certainly ambitious” – He’s appalling.
78. “It’s been a pleasure working with you” – I’ve forgotten you already.
79. “How’s the wife?” – I’ve forgotten your wife’s name.
80. “How are the kids?” – I’ve forgotten your kids’ names.
81. “How are things at home?” – I’ve forgotten everything about you.
82. “How was your weekend?” – It’s Monday or Tuesday.
83. “What are you up to this weekend?” – It’s Thursday or Friday.
84. “….” – It’s Wednesday.
85. “Come intern for us” – Come work for us for no money indefinitely. It’s illegal, but hey.
86. “He’s intensely results-driven” – He’s a psycho.
87. “Doesn’t suffer fools gladly” – Merciless bastard.
88. “He’s the office entertainer” – Total wanker.
89. “She’ll go far” – She’s terrifying.
90. “He’s straight-talking” – Every other word is “fuck”.
91. “Best wishes” – I’m dying inside.
92. “Regards” – This job is slowly killing me.
93. “Xxxxxx” – I’m overly affectionate.
94. “XOX” – I’m zany.
95. :-) – I’m childish.
96. x – I typed this by mistake. Awkward.
97. “Cheers!” – I hate you!
98. “Yours” – Up yours.
99. “Kind regards” – Go fuck yourself.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like Luke Lewis’ book, Quick Pint After Work?: And Other Everyday Lies.

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Luke Lewis is BuzzFeed's Head of European Growth and is based in London.
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