A Renegades Guide to Executive Communication- 3 Easy Steps for Ultimate Success


No need to go to business school, no experience necessary; dazzle your colleagues in the next board meeting.

Illustration by author

Ever sat in a meeting so full of perplexing analogies that you leave wondering what it was even about? I too am a victim, but I have a secret, I’ve learnt how to overcome this affliction and I’m here to help!

Firstly, let us set the scene. 
The senior management meeting? Perfect.

Why is every fucking executive Pow Wow that I’m dragged into is a testosterone-fuelled game of who’s management *phraseology* is more filled with total and utter shite than the next?

It’s like a crash course in learning a new language and Google translate cannot help. No matter how hard you try, your frantic internet searching is far too slow to be able to keep up.

Is there a place where you can go to learn to speak in this utterly ridiculous and obnoxious manner? Is there some special course? I’ve noticed lately it’s even starting to creep into my email conversations, all this ‘deferred success’ and ‘granularity’ (which makes me think of that delightful frozen dessert Granita, which has replaced my convenience store slushies with a more sophisticated and adult version — thanks Mark Bittman for that!). Anyway, I digress; why do people feel the need to communicate in this protracted and painful way?

If I started to make up a strange new language and communicated to everyone using it, the people in the white coats would come, they would take me to the asylum, where I would be sectioned and stay until I got a fucking grip — and RIGHTLY SO!

Why is this not happening? Why is this ludicrous and, now I come to think of it, often inappropriate behaviour allowed to continue?

I bet you think I’m exaggerating, right? Being dramatic. Well, allow me to enlighten you, because it’s not your very average ‘blue-sky thinking’ here, what I’m talking about is next level!

This stuff is a special brand of stupid:

‘Yeah so I’ve been putting my feelers out, and can resonate that after a peek behind the kimono we are meeting the expectations of the stake holders’

The translation for this one is that they probably gossiped with some people in the office and deduced the business is still profitable.

And the classic, truly awful:

‘Mate, I heard he was dipping his pen in the company ink, she was a tidy bit of human capital eh’

This means he was bonking someone he worked with. She was attractive.

I only remember this one because I was so dumbfounded I wrote it down so I could look it up and see what it all meant. This was about a colleague who had just been fired:

‘It can be a hard decision to punch the puppy, but you know what? Although her skill set is sub-par, she has some serious boncebackability and with the architecture of the landscape moving so fast who knows where this rightsizing could put her at this stage’

This one means; it can be hard to make a shitty decision, but we fired her, she’s a bit dim, but kinda hot so she’ll be ok, and stuff is changing fast — actually no idea what will happen to her.

So what do you do when you find yourself in this situation? I mean, of course, there are many things you can do.

  • Get that pistol out, the one you carry around in your purse in case of emergencies and shoot them all dead, but hey gun crime is rife, you’ll probably get in trouble, could lose your job etc. On second thoughts, maybe let’s not go with that.
  • How about ultra-violence instead? Take up some martial art, practise until you reach the desired level of skilled warrior, then use this new skill to rip their spindly arms from their torso so you can beat them unapologetically into submission? Too much? Might take a while…

Wait! I have a violence-free alternative. How about retaliation?

  • Ah yes. Retaliation. But how is that possible when you don’t even understand what they’re blathering on about?

I’m here to tell you that it IS possible, you don’t even need to understand them. It’s also rather amusing when you find out what people are willing to support and agree to, in an attempt to save face. You’re going to have to try hard not to laugh at the total idiocy of this tribe.

Anyway, this is how you do it!

Level 1. Start small

The first time I did this, I started small, really simple. I wanted to see how people reacted. I would strongly advise you to take this approach and gauge their reactions before progressing to the next level.

‘You can lead a horse to water…’ long pause, dramatic sigh from exec

‘and if they fall in and drown, what can you do? I guess they’re not a thirsty horse, and they’re not a swimmer either’ me

‘yeah yeah, that’s right’ exec


Level 2. Inanimate objects and groceries

That gave me a little bit of confidence so I wondered, what would happen with something a bit more abstract? (For some reason fruit, vegetables and inanimate objects seem to be pretty effective tools in this assault).

‘It’s time to leverage those heavy lifters before we are faced with another round of BOHICA’

I am pretty sure (not 100%) this means used the lowest-paid minions to get this work done, so we are not faced with another round of ‘Bend Over Here It Comes Again’.

To which I replied:

‘YES! Exactly! Good call Bob! No one wants to be squashing a fetid cabbage into a pencil sharpener… Now that IS a forced entry’

And do you know what happened?

A round of nodding and agreement. I couldn’t believe it! It took all my strength not to crack at the unmitigated ridiculousness of my rebuttal, but they bought it.

So what next? Well, I sat, and I waited for my moment.

Level 3. All-in

‘So, the bean counters pinged an email to the spoke-weasels but they were unpacking their disruptive sustainability vision at a 3-pint lunch, so sit tight before we can onboard it collaboratively’

The accountants emailed the PR people, but they were at the pub getting pissed, so it’s gonna have to wait.

I bravely offered:

‘Man. The owner of THAT orchard is gonna be launching those apples at the plug socket with such speed he’s gonna need a self-regulator to sustain it, and what the hell is he going to do when he realises they’re all plums?’

I thought I might have gone too far. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity (2 seconds) before I was brave enough to look up, and when I did, there were some pretty confused, bemused expressions. I don’t know what came over me, but I couldn’t give up, so I picked on my friendliest adversary…

‘Don’t you agree Richard?’

I fixed him with an intense (deranged) smile, and do you know what?

‘You are so fucking right, couldn’t agree more’

After that particular meeting, I got some backslaps, winks, even a couple of ‘great meeting kid’ (definitely not a kid) type comments, and that it’s great that I’m building the confidence to participate. Brilliant. *sarcasm*

So there you have it.

Fuck them and their stupid in-crowd terminology; you don’t need to learn anything, you can freestyle with whatever catches your attention. You have to be confident in your delivery and persistent, whatever you have just said is important, really important — believe that and they will too!

They probably don’t know half of what their colleagues are talking about anyway, so you may as well hop aboard the bullshit analogy train and show them who the Driver (that’s you) is.

It’ll go some way to making up for all that time you spend trapped in exchanges between middle-aged, sweaty, borderline-alcoholic morons who have so little work to do that they spend their time inventing entirely new, pointless, abhorrent languages.

Good luck with the fuckery my dear friends.

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