In my last post I mentioned that I was rejected for a job because I hadn’t done that specific job (technical writing) before, even though it was in my field (writing). This is a similar situation to another job I was rejected for, years ago; a gardener’s assistant. I had used every piece of equipment they asked for – mowers, line trimmers, chainsaws, hedge trimmers, slashers – except edgers. An edger has three wheels and a rotary saw that can be raised and lowered to trim the edges of lawns. How difficult can it be to learn to use an edger, especially compared to all the other tools?

I have seen several employment ads that use the phrase ‘thinking outside the box’ but it has lost its impact and practically even its meaning. First, thinking outside the box means the way we do things may be upset, and that can be a good reason not to do it. Second, any phrase becomes vapid through overuse. This is the fate of ‘thinking outside the box’: it has been assimilated into Bureauspeak, the world’s ugliest dialect.

Bureauspeak developed because people in management couldn’t think of the best word to say what they meant – or they couldn’t be bothered to try – and their colleagues and underlings follow suit. And the verbal effluent flows on.

Examples of Bureauspeak and its English equivalents
deliverable: product, service, result.
run out: start
deploy: start
implement: start
finalise: complete
action: do
value-add: do it better
think outside the box: do it better – as long it doesn’t change anything.

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