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Work/Life: Obesity in the Wordplace

A panel assembled by the American Medical Association has recommended doctors stop finding softer words to describe obese children, saying it only exacerbates the problem to come up with fuzzier, gentler terms for a serious condition.

A panel assembled by the American Medical Association has recommended doctors stop finding softer words to describe obese children, saying it only exacerbates the problem to come up with fuzzier, gentler terms for a serious condition.

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We can only hope this sets a great precedent for this business world, which often couches its own, shall we say, “heavier” aspects in double-speak. This kind of obfuscation only makes it more difficult to achieve work/life balance, as the untruths we accept in the workplace can’t help but carry over into daily routine. Here then are a few suggestions for telling it like it is at your job:

1. DOWNSIZING AND/OR REPURPOSING. These two terms have to go, to be replaced with “It’s over, feel free to put me down as a reference,” and “we’ll keep you on just long enough to show our customers how to interface with the computer that will be replacing you.”

2. PERFORMANCE REVIEW. Let’s not mince words. This is you getting called on the carpet for the myriad screw-ups that have nearly shut down business several times. We should start calling it the “Uh-Oh,” as in: “Jenkins, your ‘uh-oh’ is coming up on Thursday. Say your prayers.”

3. PRODUCTIVITY. Another fuzzy word which could more effectively be conveyed by those supposedly in-jest posters you see in certain cubicles reading “Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves.” Now that’s productive.

4. EARLY RETIREMENT. How about “thank you for letting us save money by giving you a severance package which is still about one-eighth of what we will have to pay to the poor independent contractor (a.ka. no health plan or 401K) who replaces you.”

5. BOUNDARIES. This covers a multitude of real-life predicaments, from “touch me again and I’ll tazer you, got it?” to “just because I’m in the cubicle next to you does not mean I need to hear about how whips and chains figured into your weekend.”

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It’s time we started telling it like it is at work. And with luck, this will carry over into our home lives as well. Such as replacing the phrase “quality time” with “get your stupid, self-absorbed butt out of work mode, and take this family out for some soft-serve ice cream and miniature golf before we all start pelting you with back issues of the Wall Street Journal.” Or something like that.

Any terms or phrases in the work place you think should get early retirement?

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