If George Carlin visited Yahoo for a day, I bet he'd have a field day with the stuff I hear on a regular basis.


For example, there's a certain class of people who seem to believe that the only word they can use to begin a conversation is: So.

I'm not kidding you. They use the word to begin conversations and then at the beginning of every 2nd or 3rd sentence. It's like they're trying to fill some sort of bizarre quota. Given how little meaning the word has, it just bugs the hell out of me.

So, what are we going to do about these core dumps?
So, did you get that e-mail?
So, how's that module coming along?

So, why the hell do you say "so" all the time?

That's what I ought to ask next time I hear it.

It gets worse. Some of them are so horribly afflicted with this disease that they even use it as a way of breaking into a conversation--you know, because they're too rude to wait their damned turn to talk?

Sss... So... So... Sooo, what do you think of these numbers?

It actually sounds like they have a stuttering problem. I have to try not to laugh when I hear this. I hear it every day and it just sounds stupid.

Going where?

And then there are the people who say things like "What are we going to do, going forward?

As if it wasn't abundantly clear that we're planning to "go forward" anyway?

Where the hell else would we be going? Do we ever not go forward?

Did you see my e-mail?

Some people seem to have a deep-seated desire to verbally confirm every e-mail sent--often within seconds of sending it!.

So, I just sent you a message about...
Hey, did you get that e-mail I just sent?

What the hell? If the message is that damned important, just pick up the phone, use IM, or walk your lazy ass over to the other person's cube.

E-mail is not real-time. It never has been. Why do you assume that your messages and received and read within 20 seconds? Some people actually work.

What's your damage, anyway?

So, what sort of brain damage do you hear around the office (or wherever you work)?

Posted by jzawodn at August 19, 2003 09:31 PM

Reader Comments
# Juha Haataja said:

Your comment about reading e-mail every 20 seconds was to the point. There is a recent report (in PDF) about the cost of e-mail interruption: "The time it takes the average employee to recover from an email interrupt and to return to their work at the same work rate at which they left it, is on average 64 seconds." Thus, if you receive 50 e-mails in a day, you might lose almost on hour of productive time. Thus, setting in your mail program the interval between e-mail checks to one hour is a good tactic, as is disabling all notifications of received e-mail.

on August 19, 2003 09:42 PM
# david said:

Getting sent an email, and then a phone call from the boss 20 seconds later when I'm in the middle of replying to it wanting to know all the answers.

on August 19, 2003 10:18 PM
# Scott Johnson said:

Um, Yeah, did you get the memo about the TPS reports?

on August 19, 2003 10:43 PM
# Anonymous Worker Drone said:

"So how are you going to save my ass *and* help me maintain my virgin ignorance?", said the Project Manager.

on August 19, 2003 11:15 PM
# Justin Robertson said:


on August 19, 2003 11:20 PM
# So said:

So, why did you waste my time with another one of your asinine blogs?

on August 20, 2003 12:34 AM
# officenerd said:

ummm...yeah... if you could get that TPS report on my desk .... that would be ,grreaaaaat...

on August 20, 2003 02:46 AM
# Jon Shoberg said:


on August 20, 2003 04:37 AM
# Tzicha said:

Don't forget all those people that *conclude* sentences and paragraphs with the conjunction 'so'. "The project won't work as planned, so." What *else* are you going to say! Don't leave me hanging!

on August 20, 2003 05:29 AM
# brandt said:

so i'm not the only one who thought of the clever Office Space reference, but how many of you have had balls to go up to your CIO and say "Hey [CIO], what's happening" in the Lumbergh voice?

and how many of you have had the CIO totally miss the joke and respond with an actual response?

i've seen it, and it's hilarious.

on August 20, 2003 07:09 AM
# marty said:

hey jeremy - where do posted comments fall in "real time" - worse than email but better than fax? what is social norm on MTTR (mean time to response) for these damn things? Please help! Great blog.

on August 20, 2003 07:30 AM
# Danne said:

"So, did you get my email making sure we are going forward?"

on August 20, 2003 07:49 AM
# Bill Brown said:

I'll second all of your gripes. My personal pet peeve is the compelling need every single employee seems to have to say hello at every passing in the hall, even if we've already said hellos earlier. Bleh.

Also, what's up with banal elevator conversation? I've taken to carrying my iPod with headphones any time I have to traverse floors rather than risk another conversation about the Phoenix gas shortage, how hot it is, what a nice lunch I should have, how we should push the only unselected button in order to make it stop on every floor, etc.

Don't get me started. Don't even get me started!

on August 20, 2003 08:01 AM
# Kaptain Koder said:

"I i i believe you have my stapler "

on August 20, 2003 08:09 AM
# Cube Monkey said:

email from manager:"Have you checked your voice mail?"

phone call seconds later: "Have you checked your voicemail"

me : "ummm.. i'm checking it right now"

voicemail: "the meeting has been rescheduled to 2pm. bye."

on August 20, 2003 08:17 AM
# kasia said:

Actually.. more annoying is an office mate using speakerphone for no freaking reason since he has a nice headset sitting on his desk..

on August 20, 2003 09:13 AM
# Ian Evans said:

I once worked for a guy who had a phone in his bathroom and would use it on speakerphone...ugh.

on August 20, 2003 09:29 AM
# Courtney said:


always worth contemplating

on August 20, 2003 09:57 AM
# xian said:

I've also heard "on a going-forward basis" when "from now on" is all that's required.

During a few years of intensive consulting I was collecting all the jargon I heard but before too long I was brainwashed and speaking that way myself. I guess that ended up being one of my key learnings.

on August 20, 2003 10:03 AM
# Anonymous Coward said:

Hmm. I find that I use many of these constructs. For example, I use "So" to communicate quickly that "I get it, I understand the situation, you are wasting my time trying to explain it to me again in your way, stop repeating, and let's solve the problem." As in, "So, how's that module coming along?" instead of "I've asked you 3 times, and 3 times you've given me bs reasons why its not ready, so let's skip over the bs reasons and get to solving the module's problems"

Of course, some people are so full of their own pov that they can't stop explaining EVERY LAST DETAIL of the problem and how its affecting them, instead of moving towards a solution. Rather than stomp on them, one can gently ease into the stream of bile by slowly starting the "I get it" sentence, symbolized by "SSSS-So,..."

Why say "going forward"? Isn't it obvious that we are going forward? Well, not to some people. You see, "going forward" implies that things should change, and that status quo is not acceptable. But, some folks like to believe that the current situation is acceptable with minor changes. Instead of saying "What you have done to this point is a waste of air and needs to be destroyed; how fast can you clear it out and do something new", we can kindly say "going forward".

Gricean implicatures are a way of interpreting how we speak to each other. If I say something that I know you already know, then I must have another reason for saying it, and the listener goes to the next level of information. It's part of how sarcasm works. When I say "your shirt is kind of green today", you get that I am not telling you that your shirt is green, you get that I am gently poking fun at just how green it is. In a similar fashion, saying "going forward" when we know that we are going forward really means "perhaps we need to abandon more of what was done in the past"

So, feel free to get frustrated at people who ALWAYS do any of these peeves, and abuse the privelege. But these are pretty useful constructs for getting a point across without being a jerk.

Or maybe I'm just one of those obnoxious people who always says so and moving forward, and thinking outside of the box and take it to the next level and other platitudes of the Dilbert Boss (who appears to have no name).

(And yes, no excuse for the "did you confirm every contact I've made with you?" people.)

on August 20, 2003 10:03 AM
# Bill Brown said:

I've also got a co-worker who says "Supposably" and several others who similarly mangle the English language.

Luckily, we've got an office culture that encourages headphone usage so I don't usually hear them.

on August 20, 2003 10:13 AM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

It's okay Anonymous Coward, I agree completely. I often use some of these things, when the situation allows. I'd get totally foosballed if anyone always used them though.

The problem with pet peeves, though, is that you get ticked off at someone even if they do use it in the right context.

I've seen people blow up at folks for no reason over things like this, when in that situation it's perfectly acceptable.

Again, though, I do understand your frustration. My personal pet peeve is "So, Jeremy, how's it going?" from one of the Senior Executive Management members...

They don't care how I'm doing, they're just trying to catch me off guard before slamming me with something big like "I was wondering how hard it'd be to copy our E-Commerce site over to another company's site, including new product categories and pricepoints... Because we told them we could do it for new week".

Actually, today I got a "So, Jeremy, feeling better?" (I've been sick) followed by: "we've decided to use PayPal for all of our E-Commerce stuff".

I walked out of the building and took the rest of the day off (I'm still fairly sick, and definitely was not in the state of mind to deal with this kind of stuff).

on August 20, 2003 11:24 AM
# chad said:

What I hate is when people use the word 'literally' when they mean 'figuratively', as in, "I'm literally swamped with paperwork!", "So... We're all literally on the same page going forward."

on August 20, 2003 03:13 PM
# Bill Brown said:

Ooo, I remembered another one: verbiage. The word means needless verbosity, but people use it to mean "wording." I know that one sense of verbiage is "the manner in which something is expressed in words," but it isn't the main sense. I like the power of calling something "verbiage" but others apparently like the sophistication of the sound instead of the connotation.

on August 20, 2003 07:55 PM
# gabe said:

Will everyone PLEASE stay in your goddamn office and CLOSE THE DOOR when you're on your phone? No more wandering around the office on your cell blathering at high decibels. And that reminds me, turn off the goddamn Harry Potter ringer before I do so with a sledgehammer.

on August 21, 2003 06:54 AM
# Cedric said:

> Why do you assume that your messages and
> received and read within 20 seconds?

They don't, that's why they ask you if you read them.

Phone is way too interruptive for me, I pretty much never pick it up. Only when I have some free time will I check out my voice mail.

All my coworkers know that, so they email me instead and when they asked me if I read their email, they are not necessarily surprised when I say "not yet".

At least, email gives me the freedom to

- read them when I feel like it
- respond to them when I feel like it

Not so with the phone.


on August 21, 2003 09:19 AM
# said:

So, if Jeremy stopped posting whine after whine, his blog output would shrink 50%.

JWZ - now there's someone that can rant with style.

on August 21, 2003 03:27 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

And 90% of the fun! :-)

on August 21, 2003 03:41 PM
# yeah said:

Yeah, ppl with the initials JZ like to rant.

on August 21, 2003 10:28 PM
# greg said:

"Of course, some people are so full of their own pov that they can't stop explaining EVERY LAST DETAIL of the problem"...
yeah, I love it when I'm 4-6 layers deep in code and suddenly some ass wants me to drop everything and give them ever so just the right level of detail.

on August 23, 2003 01:50 PM
# Earle Martin said:

I can't stand people who address me in the third person, thinking that it is somehow funny or friendly.

"How's Earle today?"

What am I supposed to say, "he is fine"? I AM RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. Try addressing me personally, you asshat!

on August 28, 2003 05:15 AM
# Ris said:

So what I want to know if why every single person in my office feels the need to share when they go to the bathroom and what number they're going to do and why. Example: "Boy that Taco Hell really did a number on me - if anyone needs me, I'll be in my 'office'" This is always followed by winks and giggles. or "My eye's are really floatin, no more coffee for me today" then upon exiting the bathroom there is ALWAYS the "Whew. Much better"

on June 28, 2005 01:56 PM
# Jon said:

>Earle Martin said:
>I can't stand people who address me in the third person, >thinking that it is somehow funny or friendly.
>"How's Earle today?"
>What am I supposed to say, "he is fine"? I AM RIGHT IN >FRONT OF YOU. Try addressing me personally, you asshat!

My response to this has always been, "Ask him yourself."

on January 25, 2006 10:40 PM
# Jon said:

Along similar lines, something that really gets me frustrated, is supposedly well educated business people, senior managers and the like, that insist on using nouns as verbs. Eg. "Please action this right away." or, "We are leveraging our scale."

Today my manager was proof reading an email I had drafted to send to some important people, and he kept wanting to change my sentences, and use "action" as stated above. I calmly told him that that word will never be used as a verb being sent from my email address, and then something along the lines of "over my rotting corpse."


on June 14, 2006 09:20 PM
# said:

"Going forward" is my pet hate. Anything you expect or plan for is temporally "forward" of the present time, you don't need to specify that. I've found this one to afflict project managers particularly badly.

Also, there seems to be a tendency now to think of every group as Team This and Team That. I notice it more so when we deal with US vendors: "So, what does Team FooBar think of this solution?" I feel like responding with: "TEAM FOOBAR, POWER UP!" like it's a friggin' superhero cartoon show for kids.

on July 29, 2007 04:30 PM
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