Wednesday, July 30, 2008

top 10 Phrases you don't want to hear

As humans, we are characterized by the ability to think above our instinct and the ability to communicate. Because of the ability to communicate, we tend to ignore our instinct. Mothers of course still have a hold on their maternal instinct and there is of course womens intuition. Guys don't have any of this unless they become gritty flat foot cops. for the most part, our process is much more simple. Eat, Drink, Sleep. The order is immaterial. Our communication equalizes this. It allows women to impart their intuition to men and it allows men to discount that intuition and later apologize or gloat whichever the case may be.

This communication has allowed for continued nuance and innuendo in our conversation making it more and more confusing for us to use words for their intended meaning and not some ulterior motive. To this end, I give you the top 10 phrases that give us an instinctive kick in the pants. At best they make us pay attention, at worst, they inspire a fight or flight response.

10. 'The Doctor would like you to come in to discuss your test results' - Why can't they just tell you over the phone? Do you really have to pack everything up and go in? Obviously if they want you to come in, it's not nothing. Nothing can be told over the phone by a secretary. But you have to go to med school to break bad news.

9. 'I'm really sorry sir, but there is nothing I can do' - This can sometimes be translated into 'I'm glad there isn't anything I can do because it would take effort to help you. It's a real do nothing phrase. If the person really can't help you, it's probably evident. The only reason to use this phrase is if you CAN help, but you are looking for some flimsy excuse to NOT help.

8. 'Can I talk to you in my office for a minute?' - The ONLY reason that management needs offices is to have a private place to reprimand/fire people. That's it. Sure, they have conference calls and the random interview, but they can do that nearly anywhere. The office is the official Spanking room. The only reason they want to talk to you in their office, is so the other employees don't hear the screams. Oddly enough though, this CAN work in reverse. When you've had enough of a particular companies brand of crap, YOU can say 'Hey, can I talk to you in your office for a minute?' Of course the manager isn't going to get fired by a peon like you, BUT he might really need you for this upcoming project and can't afford to lose you, OR you are calling him in to complain about a co-workers toe-nail clippings that seem to find their way onto your mouse-pad and you would like them DNA tested. So, the manager OFFICE is a bad place no matter which side is using it.

7. 'Time for family counsel' - This one is personal. When I was growing up my dad would yell this down the stairs on any given Sunday night. The idea was that we all exchanged ideas on the direction for the family in an open forum. The reality was the kids screwed up again and we were going to get another tongue lashing. This tongue lashing was positioned neatly in the middle of one program we loved to watch on sunday and would likely bleed right into the other program. We hated it. We would feign deafness, illness, or maybe death. It would avail us nothing.

6. 'I don't really know how to put this, but...' - So then say it lame-o. I don't really know how to put this, but you are lame. The only purpose for that phrase is to give your next one some extra kick as it heads for the victims stomach. To illustrate, lets fill in that blank and see which one doesn't belong. I don't really know how to say this but...
a). I was the one that told mom where your "comic book" collection was
b). I ran over your dog
c). You won the publishers clearinghouse sweepstakes.
Can you guess which one doesn't belong? I think you can.

5. 'We've recieved a directive from corporate and we need to make some hard decisions' - The company blow off. It's not OUR fault that some of YOU (and not us) will be fired, It's Big Bad Corporate. THEY are the bad guys here, not us, if it were up to us, we would all work here forever. Even you Fred, no matter how bad you smell.

4. 'Our company policy is __________' - The blank there should be filled in with 'A really convenient thing for us to hide behind. You see we all just showed up and the company was here with nobody to run it. We asked really nice and the company said 'Since you guys look like really cool suit and tie folks that apparently have something large and uncomfortable invading your backsides, I will let you manage me. But be careful! I have a series of policies that are IRON CLAD and can never be broken. As long as you agree to that. C'mon In!

3. 'Mr./Mrs. _____ This is officer ______ from the police department' - At worst a family member has died, but more likely, your son or daughter just got caught underage at a frat bender. Along with this category is the phrase 'This is ______ from the Internal Revenue Service' but the truth is, you'll get a lot of mail from them before they actually call you.

2. 'I've got good news and bad news' - No you don't, you have bad news. Not only do you have bad news, but you have bad news that affects me, but probably not you. The good news is just your lame attempt at humor and is usually punctuated by some kind of good news like 'You still have your health' the bad news is 'The IRS just garnisheed 50% of your wages'. The only good thing about this phrase is that it does spawn some pretty funny jokes from time to time. But amateurs should not try to use this phrase. It's not funny when you do it.

1. 'We need to talk' - There is no case in which this is good. This phrase is never followed by 'I have 20 thousand dollars that I'm gonna have to give you' or 'I've decided that we just aren't seeing enough action movies' (for the guys, the corollary of course is 'I've decided that we aren't seeing enough Colin Firth at the movies') This is nearly always followed by something like 'It just isn't working out, we need to see other people' or 'We've decided to go in another direction regarding your employment'. For those of you keeping score, the reason this one is separate from the more auspicious number 8 is because unlike being said in an office, this version of the phrase is usually said in public and away from sharp objects.

Tune in again!

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