The other day I had to participate in a conference call (nothing hugely unusual in that) and during the less-interesting bits I was doing my usual listening in letting the others talk while I browsed on Facebook. Oops, did I say that out loud? I mean, I was doing my usual listening in letting the others talk while answering important emails. Then my ears pricked up when someone said ‘I’ll ping Kate Middleton an email about that’.
‘Ping? What is ‘to ping’? Ping an email?’ I silently asked the cat who was sat next to me purring. I’ve never declared an intention to ping an email to anyone. I’ve never heard anyone else declare their intention to ping an email either, up until that conference call. Is ‘to ping’ a new verb meaning ‘to send’? Should I be pinging emails now? The World Wide Web indicates that perhaps I should if I want to get with the pogramme.
Then later on, in the usual place where I get thinking, this got me thinking about how much I have always struggled with business-ese and resisted it. When I worked full time in an office with people also doing the same thing as me there were a number of terms that used to float around meetings and in emails that annoyed me. Here are some for your enjoyment.
- The bottom line. Our departmental boss was always talking about the bottom line. I really didn’t rate the bottom line too highly.
- Synergy. I never really understood what this meant. When I was a temp at Blackwell Science my boss there talked a lot about synergy.
- Moving forward. Often put at the end of emails. ‘Will you do this task moving forward?’ No, I’ll do it moving backwards!
- Outside the box. I’d rather think in the box, thank you.
- Touch base. As in, you need to touch base with so-and-so in marketing about that. Can’t I just ask them?
- In the loop. I am still often told to keep so-and-so in the loop.
- Heads up. Sounds like you are about to be let in on an exciting secret, but this rarely does mean that.
My least favourite business-ese phrase is one that has since I left full-time employment crept into every day speak: At The End Of The Day. They say this a lot on TV (and I’m not talking intellectual BBC4 arty farty programmes). Premier League footballers use it a lot too. I have a few friends who say it a lot, possibly without realising it. I try not to say it though because I HATE IT! I hate it almost as much as I hate ‘to be fair’ (although read this for an interesting take on these two phrases).
According to the World Wide Web ‘at the end of the day’, as well as being an over-used phrase to mean ‘when all is said and done’ is the subtitle of the film War Games, it is also the title of a TV movie (subtitle The Sue Rodriguez Story) and the name of an album by a Malaysian group called Disagree and one by the Galactic Cowboys. So perhaps I should be a bit more open-minded about it. There are people out there who like it.
But what happens at the end of the day really? Nothing profound happens. You’re another day older, as these guys will sing to you.