A Handy Phrasebook of Corporate Speech

January 28 2022

A Handy Phrasebook of Corporate Speech

“I need you to do this task ASAP, preferably before tomorrow’s call!” – that’s probably something you’re hearing quite often while working for a corporation. You’re starting a new job soon, but have no idea what it means? Let us explain the most common phrases, so you can feel comfortable from day one. 

The office work follows its own rules. Today, in the age of remote work, we sometimes miss the coffee breaks, having lunch with other people or even conference room meetings running long. It doesn’t change the fact that when we hear our coworkers over Google Meet or exchange Slack messages, corporate speech affects us as much as it would during face to face meetings. 

What is corporate speech? 

A bit of theoretical introduction to start with. Corporate speech is a type of slang typical for large corporations. It contains a lot of English expressions, acronyms and bastardized phrases. It is quite often joked about, but undoubtedly it is hard to communicate in the corporate environment without it.  

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Handy phrasebook for beginners 

In this article we present a handful of words and phrases you should know before you begin. Read, remember and use! 

ASAP – As Soon As Possible – but in reality it means: it should have been done yesterday, so we have to do it NOW. ASAPs definitely introduce a certain sense of stress, so we do not recommend overusing them (and putting them in an email title followed by a number of exclamation points is a really bad idea). There’s a certain wisdom in the saying that “ASAP is the mother of all fuck-ups”. 

Fuck-up – this of course means a serious, or sometimes less serious, problem. A missed deadline, an error, customer’s negative feedback, lost document… the possibilities are endless. Naturally, it’s best to avoid them, but don’t worry – they happen to the best of us too! 

Deadline – one of the reasons for fuck-ups. Missing a deadline is a common cause of the above. This is simply the final date for completing a task. Our tip? Always have some wiggle room when determining a deadline. Should there be any delays or problems along the way, the entire project will be delivered on time, which will let us avoid the wrath of the client or our boss. 

FIY – this acronym can often be found in emails. It stands for “For Your Information.” The good news is that you don’t need to do anything.. Just accept the message! 

Check out also: Six marketing terms to know if you want to show off in front of your friends

Focus/deep work – being focused is the key to working efficiently. To focus means to devote all your attention to the to the single problem or task. Deep work is the style of work, when you get rid of all distractions, such as calls or meetings, and focus on the task at hand exclusively. 

Task – the thing you have to do. Often used in phrases such as: “I’ve just sent you a task. Take a look, because it’s ASAP” or “Complete the task once finished.” 

Brainstorm – a popular problem solving solution. It is usually a meeting, you have to prepare for regarding the topic. The leader writes down keywords on the board and the team has a fierce discussion about the best possible solution to the problem. It allows to release creativity and confront various ideas. 

Open space – an ideal solution for some, a curse for others. One big open office for all. Do you like to work along with others or do you value your privacy at work? 

Brief – a description of a project or a task. We receive a brief from a client, or we ask a colleague to “brief us on the project”, which means getting introduced into to the project. 

Call/Meeting – a scheduled phone conversation or a meeting. These may be internal, for example to discuss company business or a project, or a more formal one, with a client. 

And that’s it! Armed with this knowledge, you can bravely enter the corporate world! With time you’ll learn more expressions, as there are many, many more! To list hem all here would be truly a daunting task. Good luck! 

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