Have you ever listened to bureaucrats in conversation, or heard them speaking publicly, and felt confused because you didn’t really understand what they were saying, or because their actions seemed to belie their words? Don’t worry. It’s not because you’re not smart or well-educated, it’s because you’re not conversant with their language – Bureaucratize. That’s right, there is such a language, and it’s spoken daily by millions of bureaucrats, using English or other languages as a medium.
Having been a part of the Land of Bureaucracy for half a century, I developed a modicum of fluency in this arcane language. That is, I learned to understand it. I just never developed the same degree of fluency in speaking, in part because of my grandmother. You see, she always taught me to say what I mean and avoid obfuscation. Obfuscation is not her word, she used a word that means male bovine excretion, but my grandma was a salty old bird who never minced words.
At any rate, to help those of you who are floundering trying to make sense of the outpourings of the denizens of the Land of Bureaucracy, I have prepared a short list of some common words and phrases that will hopefully help you make sense of it. The list is in two categories; designations of people and commonly heard phrases. If you have your own favorites, don’t hesitate to include them in comments to this post.
What They Say What They Really Mean
Descriptions of People
Hands-on Manager A micro-manager who is forever in your
Mission-focused Person A slave driver without an ounce of
People Person A pushover
Meticulous Planner A hopeless procrastinator
Aggressive Go-getter A real bastard who’d sell his mother
for a promotion
Easy going Person A lazy bum
Absolutely Loyal Person A yes-man
Organization Man A rat fink
He has a wealth of experience He's about to retire
Commonly Heard Phrases
I’ll get back to you Don’t hold your breath
Have you considered all alternatives? I hate this proposal
This is very innovative This scares the hell out of me
Let’s study this some more This is disapproved
This won’t take long I hope you have a week free to do this
You’re indispensable Your vacation has been cancelled
With all due respect You suck
I hate to impose Drop whatever you’re doing, I need
you to do this for me
I need this by close of business I’ll get to it next week
I need this first thing tomorrow I’ll get to it next month
This is the way we've always done it This is the way we've always done it, so
stop recommending changes
We’ve never done it this way before Your idea sucks, and it’s disapproved
There are many more phrases in Bureaucratize that seemed designed to hinder communication, or hide meaning. I’m sure if you put your mind to it, you can think of a few. Hopefully, though, this short guide will lessen the anxiety and confusion the next time you venture into the Land of Bureaucracy.