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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Business Words

Wonderful experience here at my day job, which is at Getty Images for those who care to keep track.

I've helped to schedule our 300 person office for "Diversity and Anti-Harassment" Training. I have to say, it's moments like these I truly enjoy the world of work.

I'm not sure about every office in the US, but here at Getty, they really believe their own dogma (read: utter B.S.). And they love Business-Speak the way Germany loved Poland in the 1940s.

I don't mean to go all Dilbert-esque on anyone, but I'd like to share a few gems from the world of Human Resources, Getty Images style. I'm sure your office has similar crapola they shine up and try to make you eat.

Chemistry Test
Usage: "We need to do a 'chemistry test' to see if this candidate matches our culture."
Meaning: Put two people together and see if they both don't mind inanely discussing shoes. If one looks listless and bored by what was on Survivor last night, they have failed the 'chemistry test.'
Analysis: Intended to make meeting people sound like a "process" that can be "managed" and "implemented." This can be easily accomplished without such claptrap. Why not say "I just want to see if this candidate would fit in here." Oh wait, that doesn't sound like "business."

Usage: "We need to come up with a plan to manage our workflow; I'm overwhelmed!"
Meaning: How some little bits of paper go from my desk, to my boss's desk, then back to my desk again with little marks on it, then to a guy in shipping, and then sent via FedEx to someone who sends it back to me.
Analysis: Sounds both biological and icky. Once paperwork (or anything at all really) becomes what amounts to a "flow" you are officially in the midst of a startlingly inept bureaucracy. Check your e-mail immediately.

Move Forward on This
Usage: "We need to call John in Seattle because without his approval we can't move forward on this."
Meaning: Do something. Anything.
Analysis: People apparently hate to think of themselves as helpless. Who knew? So in business, we now never have to. We can just be sort of waiting to "finish moving." You can replace the terms "move forward on this" with "do anything." [Example: We need to call John in Seattle because without in approval we can't do anything."]

Discovery Process
Usage: "Hm. Well...in the discovery process we found out that Jim is up shit creek without a paddle."
Meaning: Investigation
Analysis: It is now considered Creepy to investigate things. It makes you feel like you're either doing research for high school or in the gestapo. Solution? Don't go through files looking for dirt on Jim the guy from accounting. Enage in a "discovery process." This will screw Jim good, I promise you.

Usage: "Alison seemed skeptical during her sales training session."
Meaning: Indoctrination
Analysis: Training people in most offices is rarely just to show them how to use excel. It's a corporate mandated dogma fest that not only teaches you something, but sells it to you as a world view. Repeat these words: "Sell for you; Sell for US." "Growth means possiblity." "Raising the Bar means never apologizing for where your foot landed." If you find any of this distasteful, you are not being properly "trained." For reference, see other forms of popular training include "cross-training," "obedience training" and "breaking horses."

For the Business
Usage: "We're sorry to let the entire creative department go, but it's the best thing for the business."
Meaning: Bad for people, good for little green pieces of paper
Analysis: The only people who use these words are those that are justifying the firing of someone else. It is rarely ever used otherwise. Mark my words, crew. I work in HR.

It's this sort of Orwellian language mangling, meaning-reduction and screw tightening that will someday help our children know their place as miserable worker bees.

If you have any others to contribute, please let me know. That's just a few of my favorites. There are tons.