Are business buzz words making us ill?
'I love work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.' So said Three Men in a Boat's Jerome K Jerome - reminding us langorously of a golden Edwardian age of innocence and idleness.
Today of course such an attitude would result in almost instant dismissal by Human Resources at our abject failure to walk any talk, see the big picture or go the extra 200%.
For in the 21st century the workplace has never been more stressful. And our corporate business buzzwords and phrases, alas, only make it more so.
Who, for example, can stay calm anymore when they hear the word 'consultant'? Most of us know this is nearly always someone who wears an expensive Prada suit and, for an exorbitant fee, tells the Managing Director what everyone else in the company has been saying for years in the office kitchen.
Similarly sigh-inducing is 'blue-skying' (sounds nicer than brainstorming, but still means you can say anything and it doesn't really matter) and 'paradigm shift' (your company's basically fucked and you're about to be given a black dustbin bag for your possessions).
As for the overuse of 'Key' (Players. Objectives. Actions. Visions. An adjective that makes everything sound self-important, very important or just plain ridiculous.) and 'managing change' (A little like asking a fish how it manages with water), just give us the right to go a little splenetic at yet more business buzzwords used to mask our grim coalface reality.
2015 job titles too often seem to come with bullshit attached .The ubiquitous 'Associate' anyone? Or do we just mean someone with few permanent employment rights and chances of promotion but at least if nothing else a silly title for their name badge?
Or how about the ever-proliferating 'community managers' (person who works for a widget company and wants to be everyone's best friend and to creepily 'engage' on social media and thinks no one will notice)? Or, yes - and you've pulled the short straw - 'customer services officer' (person who actually has to speak to the scary, real world, full of frightening people like customers)?
All of whose recruitment and development will need to be managed by our ever-present HR manager. Once the person from Personnel who took an abnormal interest in your hobbies and showed you where the toilet was. Now more likely to recommend you for psychometric testing if you don't get orgasmic every time someone mentions Quality Benchmarking.
No one, by the way, is allowed to be called a middle manager anymore as it reminds everyone of The Office's David Brent doing a motivational dance at a sales conference.
Sadly, most of us feel obliged to take on board the corporate bullshit when it comes to our appraisals and CVs.
Hands up anyone who hasn't 'empowered and facilitated my team' (made sure I dumped all my work on them, so that I could pretend I was just like my boss) or 'Pursued Excellence and Quality Performance' (don't think I've forgetting anything or any capital letters.)
Not forgetting our 'extensive portfolio of skills' (all those unsuccessful career starts and induction courses which I've somehow managed to make sound sexy must count for something) and the groanable 'thought-leadership' (finally worked out the difference between an Aim and an Objective, now give me a decent bonus, ok?).
You could, we suppose, attempt to forget your stress with a permitted 'power nap' ( What was once called falling asleep at your desk has been given a corporate makeover. It is now deemed to offer magical powers of rejuvenation for high-achievers, such that everyone expects you to wake up with a Eureka moment - not just grunting with a funny looking crease down your face.) But remember that this is only so that management can get even more productive work out of you. They're not stupid.
They might even offer you a 'sleep pod' a la Google: it's not apparently enough that we have company gyms, dry cleaners, beauticians, massagers and chefs to keep us longer in the office. They've now found a way for us to spend our nights there, sleeping in a foetal bundle in a 2 x 2 metre glorified cat basket. And you thought you could just slink home at the end of the working day.
Please take this on board and then go and 'scuba in your think tank'. Just because you and the team were a bit resistant to wearing funny hats for that Edward de Bono brainstorming session, doesn't mean you can't manage swimming cozzies.
Enjoy - or do we mean endure?
Don't Mention It: The A - Z of Modern Bullshit by Malcolm Burgess, £7.99, Oxygen Books is published on 22 October 2015.