November 5, 2004 at 4:00 pm

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Inspired by the annual corporate review cycle, even though I now experience it only vicariously through my loved ones who remain in corporate (and retail) America… God bless ‘em!

WHEN YOUR BOSS SAYS: “How are you feeling?” whatever you do, don’t tell them. C’mon, “How am I feeling?! You can’t handle how I’m feeling!”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS: “I can’t read you like I can read everyone else, and it’s giving me the willies. I’m starting to think you hate me. You don’t hate me, right? Because if you hate me, then everyone else hates me and I…”

See, there’s just no way for this one to go well. Smile and say, “I’m doing fine,” without sounding too much like a patient on Lithium. You may need to practice this one in the mirror every morning to get the delivery just right.

It also works for women when your spouse asks you the same thing. They’re not really prepared to hear about how the chain-smoking SUV driver cut you off, how the neighbor’s dog tried to attack you on your morning/evening jog, etc.

WHEN YOUR BOSS SAYS: “I’m concerned about…” it’s always a bad sign.

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS: “I’m mad as hell about…” Tread lightly, this is where things can get really mucky.

WHEN YOUR BOSS SAYS: “You need to be more assertive,” they don’t really mean be more assertive, silly goose!

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS: “You need to back me up more in meetings and correspondence (even if I’m not making sense). You watch my back, dammit, and don’t ever contradict me in public!”

WHEN YOUR BOSS SAYS: “You’ve met all your marks and your peers all speak very highly of you. You’re a real asset to this team.”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS: Well, this one gets a little confusing. If you are blessed to have a wonderful manager (in which case you’re having trouble relating to the other examples), guess what — they actually mean what they’re saying. However, if you’re like most corporate shut-ins, this is the more likely meaning: “I don’t really like you. Something about you just grates on my last nerve. Maybe it’s your exceptional performance, which makes me have to work twice as hard to appear better than you. Maybe it’s the fact that people trust you and no one seems to trust me. Maybe it’s the fact that you seem to have a life outside of work and I sold my soul a long time ago. Whatever it is, mark my words, you may be doing great now but I’m watching you.”

WHEN YOUR BOSS SAYS: “We all need to be especially aware of how important this is. We are all being watched.”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS: “The pressure is on and I can’t handle this alone. The Big Cheese has made it clear, we have to be professionals and you can’t be a professional if you’re behaving like yourself — like {gasp} a human with {gasp} feelings and a life with meaning beyond just work. We need to behave like an army (Well, uhm, the only army in the world to which no one is issued ammunition and given proper training — So?! It’s only a small detail!) and get this thing done. Failure is not an option!”

WHEN YOUR BOSS SAYS: “Some people have indicated you can be difficult to reach. Is there a problem with your cellphone?”

WHAT THEY MEAN IS: “Okay, look dumbass, we would surgically implant the phone into everyone’s brains if we could but Legal would have a fit and the surgical costs — especially if you ever

left the company — would be horrendous. But that doesn’t mean I don’t demand that you answer the phone when you’re taking a dump, eating during your lunch BREAK, driving home in rush hour traffic to try and meet your spouse/child/parents/shrink, or, yes dammit, pretending that we don’t actually OWN YOU on the weekends and holidays. Pagers are old fashioned — that cellphone is our direct line to you, 24/7, and you damned well better answer. The fate of the WORLD depends on… er… well, the fate of your next review depends on it, anyway.”

I have more material and I’ll be here all week… thank you, thank you very much!

Any resemblance to persons living or dead or to actual corporations is purely coincidental (but damned intriguing, no?).




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