January 10, 2010

Frankly, I'm tired of people putting "frankly" in front of everything that comes out of their mouth. It used to be used sparingly - and it meant something. When someone prefaced a sentence with "frankly", you had a right to expect them to reveal something interesting - or at least, candid. But now it's become a conversational tick, a convenient way to introduce every meaningless utterance and make it sound serious. As soon as I hear someone say, "frankly, I prefer the chicken", I know there's no going back. Just say you prefer the chicken. You don't have to make an announcement.

But at least "frankly" is familiar. There are all sorts of expressions I'm hearing lately that I don't even understand. Recently, I heard about some of the new office jargon that people are using.

One saying is; "let's not try to build a chestnut fence to keep the sand dunes in". The translation for this is; "let's confront the problem head on". Why isn't saying "let's confront a problem head on" good enough? And what is a chestnut fence anyway? Maybe in Britain where everyone gardens, it makes sense.

Another saying is; "let's put this idea in the fridge and snack on it later." I can't imagine who would think this makes them sound professional.

Another expression that's become popular in the workplace is: "I'm coming into this with an open kimono." Luckily, my workplace is at home where I won't ever have to hear someone say it. It's a variation of a slang term used in the business world. "Open the Kimono" means let's see what you have to offer.

Who thought this up? I don't want to visualize some shlubby finance director throwing open his kimono. And aren't kimonos wrapped front to back with the open side tied with a sash at the back?

Another visual that makes me cringe is when someone says, "There's more than one way to skin a cat." Yuck. I find this expression extremely unpleasant - particularly when i'm eating. And I'm not even a cat person.

In the category of annoying expressions, the one I've always had an issue with is when someone says, "I like to think outside the box." If you're the sort of person who says this, you've just demonstrated that you're not an outside-the-box thinker.

People latch on to words all the time in order to couch bad news. The buzzword I've been hearing a lot of lately is that someone didn't "respond" to the material. Writers hear this regularly. I guess it's a gentle way of saying they're not interested but why does it have to be sugar-coated? It doesn't sweeten the rejection.

Also, it's not even accurate. If I hear "she didn't respond to the material" I think - she DID respond. She didn't like it. That's a response.

Of course, the classic expression everyone hates most is "at the end of the day" and yet, people still say it. I think they can't help themselves. There should be interventions for people who are unable to control their cliché usage. If you say more than three clichés a day, you go to cliché rehab. You're surrounded by other people walking around saying things like "it's not rocket science" and "we're not in Kansas anymore."

But the worst - the all time worst - is an expression that's become increasingly popular over the last year or so. Someone will voice an opinion on something innocuous like what they had for dinner and follow it up with: "I'm not gonna lie." Why telegraph it? And is anyone even challenging the authenticity of the statement? Usually not. People who say this add it on to a sentence that doesn't require lying in the first place. As in, "Nice kimono, I'm not gonna lie."