Phrases You’ll Hear During Your First Year on the Job (Plus What they Actually Mean)
Congrats on joining the full-time workforce! With every new phase of your life comes a learning curve. We thought we’d give you a head start by sharing this glossary of terms that may be unfamiliar to you. Don’t worry – these words and phrases are meaningless outside of corporate America, so it makes sense that you may have never used them before.
Review this collection of phrases and try using a few in a sentence. You’ll sound like a jaded seasoned veteran in no time!
Get Buy-In: “Before you move forward or finalize anything, make sure you get buy-in from Molly.”
The laborious process of obtaining approval from an individual or group with a significant history of hating your ideas, your department and your boss. Those who seek buy-in typically have a 25% success rate. Those who receive buy-in often experience co-occurring resentment and condescension generated by buy-in distributers.
Put a Pin in It: “That’s an interesting thought, but let’s put a pin in it for now.”
An action reserved for questions, problems and ideas that are timely and relevant, but also too inconvenient or annoying for management to deal with. Once an issue is pinned, its owner must allow a six-month waiting period before re-introducing the issue. At that time, the individual’s manager or colleague will once again request that everyone just “put a pin it for now.”
Take a Step Back: “I feel like we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let’s take a step back.”
A phrase commonly uttered by individuals with an inability to make decisions and perform tasks. Often used in group discussions that are specific, practical and productive in nature, the phrase “take a step back” will quickly guide any focused conversation back to a comfortable place of abstract thought, far away from tactics, assignments and deadlines.
Take Offline: “We’re pressed for time, so let’s take this topic offline.”
A request used in meetings, conference calls or multi-recipient emails by a person with a strong suspicion that they are about to be called out on their bullshit by a coworker. Taking something offline, or making the incriminating conversation private, reduces the bullshitter’s level of embarrassment by eliminating witnesses.
Piggyback: “Just to piggyback on what Drew said, I’m not sure this execution is on-brand.”
Like its playground antic namesake, the piggyback allows an individual to be carried (figuratively, in this case) by a peer who’s willing to perform more of the required work. Used in brainstorms, weekly meetings, debriefs and other group conversations, the piggyback is a go-to strategy for those who rarely have unique thoughts and must rely upon the repetition of slightly varied versions of their colleague’s ideas in order to prove that their job function is warranted.
Hard Stop: “I just want to let everyone know in advance that I have a hard stop and will need to leave the call by no later than 4:30.”
A defensive strategy used by attendees of meetings and conference calls that are expected to drone on pointlessly long after their intended conclusion. Those with a hard stop may or may not have an important engagement immediately following their call or meeting. Hard stops have reportedly been used by meeting goers to be on time for doctor’s appointments, childcare pick-up, spinning classes that are hard to get into and happy hour plans.
Take the Lead: “It would be great if you could take the lead on this project.”
A process that is often presented as a leadership opportunity, but quickly reveals itself as a management task minus the pay, authority, decision-making power and respect typically granted to managers. Those who take the lead often perform duties that are parental in nature (e.g. cleaning up after others, nagging, taking responsibility, working thanklessly). However those who have historically took the lead are often poised to suggest that others take the lead the next time a lead must be taken. (e.g. “If you wouldn’t mind taking the lead this time around, that would be great.”)
Grab a Coffee: “What the heck was going on in that meeting? Want to grab a coffee?”
An offsite, one-on-one interaction between co-workers intended for clandestine gossiping, complaining and forming alliances. Coffee may or may not be consumed.
Grab a Drink: “What. A. Day. I say we grab a drink.”
Similar to grabbing a coffee, grabbing a drink occurs offsite, but after normal working hours and in an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages. Conversations between two or more colleagues are typically conducted at higher volumes and with less discretion and professionalism than those that occur while grabbing a coffee. Popular topics include diminishing company morale, poor pay, idiot management and other information that “cannot leave the group.” Alcoholic beverages are always consumed.
Jenessa Connor is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and young adult author. If you don’t find her in front of her computer, check the local movie theaters and restaurants, Prospect Park or the gym at CrossFit 718.