Saturday, August 19, 2006

Corporate Culture

One of my new co-workers sent around an email that I think neatly summarizes the difference between my old job and my new job.

It has been brought to management's attention that some individuals throughout the company have been using foul language during the course of normal conversation with their co-workers. Due to complaints received from some employees who may be easily offended, this type of language will be no longer be tolerated. We do however, realize the critical importance of being able to accurately express your feelings when communicating with co-workers. Therefore, a list of "TRY SAYING" new phrases has been provided so that proper exchange of ideas and information can continue in an effective manner without risk of offending our more sensitive employees.

TRY SAYING: I wasn't involved in the project.
INSTEAD OF: It's not my ----ing problem.

TRY SAYING: Perhaps you should check with...
INSTEAD OF: Tell someone who gives a ----.

TRY SAYING: You want me to take care of that?
INSTEAD OF: Who the ---- died and made you boss?

TRY SAYING: I don't think you understand.
INSTEAD OF: Shove it up your ---.

I'm not going to include the whole list, because I'm sure you can see where this is going. The point is that at my old job, I would mostly hear stuff from the "TRY SAYING" list. At my new job, I think I've heard every single thing on the "INSTEAD OF" list, and I've only been there for three weeks now. That being said, here are a few "INSTEAD OF" sayings that are special favorites among my new co-workers:

TRY SAYING: We'll have to discuss that.
INSTEAD OF: NO! That's bull----.

TRY SAYING: He's not familiar with the issues.
INSTEAD OF: He's got his head up his ---.

TRY SAYING: Excuse me, sir?
INSTEAD OF: Eat ---- and die.

TRY SAYING: I love a challenge.
INSTEAD OF: This job sucks.

Internally, people at my old job might have been thinking the "INSTEAD OF" stuff, but they would very rarely say it out loud. Although I don't swear much myself, I'm not easily offended by people who do, and I'm finding it kind of refreshing to hear people say what they're really thinking, instead of shrouding everything in layers of corporate euphemisms.

For example, I can't tell you how many times I heard something like, "We need to address some of the opportunities for improvement." No one would ever say that a project or product line had problems. Management might acknowledge "issues" or even "challenges" but they generally prefered to use the term "opportunities," even when describing situations that were completely FUBAR.

Of course, at my old job, people would probably have gotten in some fairly serious trouble for even forwarding an email like this around.

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