Thursday, May 06, 2010

Words you can't say at work?

I saw that headline on Yahoo! this morning and my first thought was how many ways can you reuse the classic George Carlin routine?

But I looked anyway... and it turned out to be an apparently serious article by Linda Durre on It also turned out that the list was more George Lucas than George Carlin.

Tops on the list of words one should not use at work?

Try "try."

Apparently modern employers are like the Jedi Master, Yoda:

I work alone -- and maybe this is one reason why -- but I can't imagine why "I'll try" or "we'll see" are supposedly workplace no-no's. Why in the world would anyone agree to do something before he knows whether it can be done? If I had minions (something I wish for in my prayers each evening) and I said to one them, "Billingsgate, I want a proposal for a workable perpetual motion machine on my desk before 5:00pm today!" and Billingsgate said, "Sir, yes, sir!" I would think him the biggest idiot in the world. I'd fire him at lunchtime. Also on the proscribed list are some of the most vital phrases in the lawyers' arsenal: "I'll get back to you," "I don't know," and "We'll see." I suppose this may be every client's secret fantasy: You call your lawyer (Milo) and you say, "Milo, tell me yes or no, is the new health care bill constitutional?" Even if Milo helped to write the darned thing, how can he answer that question? "Milo, about that case we just filed: Will we win?" If Milo has a brain in his head he doesn't answer that question yes or no even if it's not asked until the day before trial. "Milo, the Supreme Court just handed down a decision in the Jones case. Does that help or hurt us in our case?" I'm breaking out in a cold sweat just imagining these scenarios. Not only would it be the death of the billable hour -- how in the world could any competent lawyer presume to answer any of these questions without research, investigation, careful thought -- and the liberal use of every weasel word on the proscribed list? Maybe Ms. Durre was intending satire and I am too dim to recognize it. But I think I would have been far happier reading a rehash of the old George Carlin routine.


P.S. -- Did you realize... that these two guys are really the same guy?

I don't know if that enhances my respect for Fozzie Bear or diminishes my regard for Yoda....


sari said...

Also, Miss Piggy. ;-) Same guy.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I know what you mean. My boss goes mad when I use the word 'try'!

My 1000th post is up now.

sari said...

Also...I have a lot of words I can't say at work, because I work at home with a two year old. I will say, though...if a "questionable" word comes up, it's easier to slip it by him than the 11 year old.

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