“At the end of the day, we are going to be open kimono as we partner with you on this opportunity.”
That sounds really creepy, doesn’t it? But in a business meeting, this is an easy translation: “No matter what, we will share information with you while we work together.”
I love dissecting catchphrases, clichés, corporate-speak and politico-speak. And as formal language morphs into corporate jargon, 140-character abstracts, or a text on a post-millennial smartphone, I think it’s time I set out some common definitions.
At the end of the day: not sunset, or even happy hour. Basically it means “really.”
Open kimono: a very disturbing way to say “transparent.”
Commit/commitment: verb meaning “I will show up”; noun implying participation with the barest of interest. I’m willing to commit to the discussion; You have my commitment on this project.
Embrace: verb demonstrating slightly less disinterest than “commit.” I am excited to embrace the new HR policies.
Engage/engagement: a distasteful interaction that is absolutely mandatory. We are absolutely committed to engaging the public on this issue.
Advocate: the speaker actually cares about a concept, probably because it’s their idea in the first place. I’m absolutely an advocate for taking a baseball bat to every inkjet printer within a five-mile radius.
Compassion: implying that one likes puppies. I am driven by a deep compassion for others.
Evidence-based: something that really happened; we didn’t make this up. We are implementing evidence-based policies to improve educator performance.
Stakeholders: the people complaining the loudest. My first priority is stakeholder engagement.
Robust: implying motion or action slightly better than inertia. This will be a robust discussion where we seek everyone’s input.
Transition: change with no end in sight. 2019 marks a transition for the state/company/economy.
Transformation: a change that will take 100 years longer than a transition. New Mexico is beginning an economic transformation.
Transparent: no more information will be forthcoming. We are committed to complete transparency.
Opportunity: the most unpleasant task you will ever undertake. We have a tremendous opportunity to transform this organization.
Process: any activity you undertake in order to get paid. I’d like to hear more about your checkout process.
Best practice: any activity foisted upon you by your boss. Removing all the staples with your teeth before shredding the document is an industry best practice.
Curated: a collection of information that someone (the “curator”) actually read before posting. Oozepost is a carefully curated website that lists and ranks the best grilled cheese sandwich trucks in the Southwest.
Holistic: a) term describing a project where the old presentations and documents were actually recycled; b) term describing a level of scrutiny not unlike a combined proctology/gynecology exam. We will be conducting a holistic top-down review of all our processes.
It’s not the money: it is absolutely the money, and how dare you expect payment for your work? It’s not the money; we loved your proposal but we just aren’t ready to commit at this time.
Thank you for your time: It’s a shame that you are too blind and stupid to understand what a great idea this is. I’ve really enjoyed engaging with you. Thank you for your time.
Thank you for your interest: And the horse you rode in on. Should be the mandatory first line of all government responses to public records requests. Thank you for your interest in the General Services Administration.
Thank you for your service: Thank you for your service.
Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and former Navy officer. She lives north of I-40 where she and her family run two head of dog, and one of cat.