A Guide to Business Speak for Recent Grads

by 6 years ago


Hello, recent graduates trepidatiously eyeing the real world. I have a spot of bad news for you: your college did nothing to prepare you for corporate America.

That’s okay. It’s not their fault. We all know our education system is in desperate need of a massive overhaul. My suggestion? Send every high school graduate to prison for four years. Not only will it curb our current epidemic of sexual assaults on campuses, cubicles and an hour-long lunch break will seem heavenly afterward.

But that’s an aside. We are here to talk about you 22-year-olds entering reality. A world where happy hours don’t last from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., but where offers to attend ones you have no desire to go to extend from your first day of work until your eventual death. One where oversleeping results in reprimands. Reprimands! When is the last time you were yelled at by an adult? You are in for a culture shock. At work they can just yell at you all day.

But me here at BroBible wants you to succeed, not fail. And as a recent refugee of the business world, I can help. I went straight from Virginia Tech to a billion-dollar company, then switched to a buttoned-down lobbying firm. So I know soul-sucking. I know work. But most importantly, I know business speak. So here’s my guide to all the jargon you’ll encounter in your first real job.

Ha. Like you know what jargon means.

Jargon: Business speak.

Actionable Items: Things you have to do or you will be fired. Consider it homework, but with the comforting knowledge that you can do it during your day. That’s the beauty of the work day. There’s all this time to do work. You won’t ever use it, but it’s nice to know it’s there. A fun fact about actionable items is that sometimes your bosses will create more of them for no fucking reason. “Okay, but what are some actionable items we can take from this meeting?” If anyone ever says that to you, shoot yourself in the calf. (It’s likely your job provides long-term medical leave. When you eventually return, the items will have hopefully been taken care of.)

Ping: Email. Sometime over the past few years, ping became the predominant word used to mean “contact me.” Of course, in 2014, the only way people contact each other is by email. Thus, Ping = Email, except in a way that makes you say “Fuck everything.”

Fuck everything.

Circle Back: Here’s your first tough business speak situation: “Let’s circle back on this one” can have two meanings depending on context. If “circle back” is said by your boss while she glares daggers at you, it means “Why the fuck did you bring that up in this meeting?” Expect a reprimand by “ping” later in the day. If, however, delivered without any anger behind it, it means “I am stalling for time because I have no idea what to do.”

FYI: Short for “For You Information,” which is short for “For Your Information, this is going to come back and bite you in the ass later, so be ready.” If you get an email that says FYI, it would be very proactive of you to come up with some actionable items regarding the news you received.

Proactive: Bullshit word used by everyone to make it seem like 1. They aren’t lazy and 2. Give a shit. Use it in an email to your boss during your first week and you are golden. “Hey, just want to be proactive about my upcoming projects.” What projects? Doesn’t matter. Your boss isn’t going to ask, or assign you shit. She’s just happy she has a proactive new hire, which gives her an excuse to no longer directly supervise you. Start leaving earlier. It’s the proactive way to get home.

Next Steps: Used in meetings to coax answers out of someone who is clearly bullshitting you. “So, what are our next steps?”

OH SHIT. BUSINESS SITUATION BUSINESS BREAKDOWN TIME: Let’s take a second to analyze the above situation. Say you are in a meeting and your boss asks you what the next steps will be. He clearly thinks you are lying through your teeth and calling you out on it. In front of other people. How do you deftly handle a situation like this? By listing next steps? No. With more bullshit! It’s time for you to out business speak your boss. Here are some phrases that will up the ante.

“Well, we need to be cognizant of the fact that this is an iterative process.”

“It’s a fairly fluid situation, so it would behoove us not to lock ourselves into something so intransigent.”

“How about we take this conversation offline?”

What the fuck do any of those mean? Who the fuck knows. But that’s okay. Business isn’t a collaborative, step-by-step process wherein things occur so more things can occur. No, it’s a chess match of counterattacking everyone’s unproductivity with more unproductivity of your own. Always think several moves ahead.

You’re fired: Might want to familiarize yourself with this one.

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