8/18/2008

Corporate Survival Guide: Catch the Buzz

The truly authoritative leader speaks his own language, with words of power, suggestion, and multiple interpretations. In addition, these leaders don't have any time, or at least can't appear to have it, for idle chit-chat and complete thoughts or sentences: they've got to spit it out quickly.

This is the domain of catch-phrases, where a single word or phrase can mean entire paragraphs of gibberish.

It is critical that you, the corporate soldier, begin using these phrases soon, and fold them more and more into your conversations until finally you speak only in buzz. As you grow in experience, you will being to speak both more and less with each utterance.

For the beginning buzzer, it is sufficient to simply use phrases that others use as well. The best phrases would be those that you have heard your management chain use; this indicates to them a perceptive ear, an understanding of their dialect, and a willingness to suck up.

But as you get more comfortable with these speech patterns, including the ability to create entire paragraphs of meaningless jargon and a tone of authority in delivering nonsense, it is time for phase II: making up your own phrases.

The key to buzz phrases is a combination of action verbs and metaphors, which when said with the right emphasis can be applied to any situation. The metaphor need not make sense, nor does it need to actually apply to the situation; the importance is in saying the phrase and having it heard by awestruck co-workers as well as management.

You should make up your own phrases in general, at first by random word association late at night followed by memorization, but eventually on the fly as the situation demands. But here are some for consideration:

Parting shots in saying goodbye to someone:
  • Flip it on the up side!
  • Catch you before it falls

General wisdom to impart, during random silences in meetings:

  • Head it off before it's off with your head
  • Fat bristles
  • Building pontoon bridges
  • Broken solid
  • We should fence-post it
  • He's on the uptake
  • Quicker than jello
  • A gambler's winnings
  • Green it and clean it!

Compliments (Note: use compliments judiciously. You want to be seen as the hero, so don't pass that piece of cake to someone else. Use them just enough to show what a great leader you are, generally for pathetically small things that can't get that other person promoted):

  • Stratospheric thinking!

Now go start buzzing. Remember: on the corporate battlefield, it's not what you know, but what others think you know. and with buzz phrases, it's not what you say, but what they think you're saying.

Catch you on the update.

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