Penelope Trunk provides some insight into commonly used office phrases and what they really mean in her book Brazen Careerist:
You and I are not on the same page: “Get on my page. Your page is misguided.” No one ever says, “We’re not on the same page, so let me work really hard to understand your point of view. If you want to understand someone else, you say, “Can you tell me more about how you’re thinking.”
I’m calling to touch base: “I want something from you but I can’t say it up front.” Or “I am worried that you are lost and I’m sniffing around for signs to confirm my hunch.” Or “I’m calling because you micromanage me.”
Let’s run the numbers and see how they look: “I know they look bad on first blush. But the true use of Excel is to keep changing the formulas until you find a format that makes the numbers look good.”
My plate is full: “Help I’m drowning,” or “I would kill myself before I’d work on your project.”
Let’s close the loop: “Let me make sure I’m not going to get into trouble for this one.”
Let’s touch base next week: “I don’t want to talk to you now,” or “You are on a short leash and you need to report back to me.”
Keep this on your radar: “This will come back to bite you. Or me.”
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