In the past, I’ve written about the dangers of biz-blab, clichés, and jargon. However, I’ve yet to write about “weasel words”–phrases that allow a boss or employee to say one thing and yet mean something entirely different.
The ability to identify and understand weasel words is a crucial business skill because, without it, you’re in constant danger of having the proverbial wool pulled over your eyes. With that in mind, here is the real meaning of the 20 most common weasel terms and phrases.
1. “I’m sorry if I offended you.”
Translation: “You are being oversensitive about what I did or said, and now I want you to shut up about it.”
2. “My hands are tied.”
Translation: “I could probably have worked this issue for you but in the larger scheme of what I need to get done, it simply wasn’t all that important to me.”
3. “Our non-GAAP earnings are…”
Translation: “We are creating a fanciful version of our horrible financial situation in the hope that investors and reporters are dumb enough to swallow it.”
4. “That being said … “
Translation: “Now that I have provided a straw man characterization of your position, I will explain why that position is shortsighted and stupid.
5. “There is no truth to that rumor.”
Translation: “The rumor is true.”
6. “This is a development opportunity.”
Translation: “I don’t want to pay you extra to take on a difficult task that’s outside of your job description, so I’m sugarcoating the donkey-work as a career move.”
7. “This is a salaried position.”
Translation: “You will be subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) pressured to work many hours of unpaid overtime.”
Read more at INC.