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10 Corporate Jargon Terms -- As Defined by Cats

When your brain is fried by an overdose of office cliches, cats can bring you back to life.

 |  Jun 18th 2013  |   11 Contributions


Consultants love to share their boundless vocabulary of ridiculous phrases and mangled words. Management types seem to have a knack for seamlessly assimilating this new vocabulary into their language, forcing the rest of us to grit our teeth and deal with it long after the consultant has gone.

Cats, being more intelligent than consultants, refuse to tolerate this crap -- and since they don't need a paycheck, they'll be glad to tell your boss what these words really mean and exactly where they can put them. Let's join some cats on a trip to the jargon basement and see what they make of these 10 commonly heard corporate cliches.

1. Move the needle

What management thinks it means: to generate a reaction or result.

What your cat thinks it means:

Fluffy had clearly succeeded in moving the needle and getting some petties. Woman petting cat by Shutterstock

2. Lean in

What management thinks it means: Believe in yourself. Give it your all. Alternately, "I'm a privileged white person with an ivy league degree and a seven-figure salary, and I'm here to tell you that if you're not an executive at a Fortune 500 company by age 40, you're just not trying hard enough."

What your cat thinks it means:

Louise wasn't afraid to lean in and give her sick friend some love. Cat leaning against her friend by Shutterstock

3. Popcorn

What management thinks it means: to randomly suggest ideas or give feedback while in a group session.

What your cat thinks it means:

4. Drill down

What management thinks it means: to examine a subject more closely.

What your cat thinks it means:

5. Onboarding

What management thinks it means: the process of garnering support for a key project, or getting a new employee familiar with the company, trained, and finished with paperwork for payroll and benefits.

What your cat thinks it means:

Peanut demonstrates the fine art of onboarding, feline style.

6. Robust dialogue

What management thinks it means: a productive conversation between coworkers involving open, honest discussion.

What your cat thinks it means:

7. Take it to the next level

What management thinks it means: to expand something or make it better.

What your cat thinks it means:

Kissy was never shy about taking it to the next level. Photo by JaneA Kelley

8. Out of pocket

What management thinks it means: unavailable or out of the office.

What your cat thinks it means:

"Hold all my calls, Tim; I'm going to be out of pocket for a while." Kitten in the pocket of a silk robe by Shutterstock

9. Lose the bubble

What management thinks it means: to forget about or neglect.

What your cat thinks it means:

Poor little Toonces lost the bubble! Doesn't he look sad? Don't worry, sweetie, there are plenty more where that one came from. Kitten and soap bubbles by Shutterstock

10. Outcomes

What management thinks it means: the end results of visioning, drilling down, leaning in, robust dialogue, pushing the envelope, taking it to the next level, and operationalizing your organization's new strategic plan.

What your cat thinks it means:

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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