Every now and then I hear a buzzword used in a way that angers me to the point of almost punching a hole in a wall. The buzzword “opportunity” is one of them. Let me explain…
Opportunity used to mean something good. As a child I was taught to seek opportunities and be thankful anytime I ever received one. Dictionary.com defines opportunity as: a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.
Well, leave it up to big corporate to change this once promising term to the complete opposite of its original meaning. When I hear the word “opportunity” said in the office, my skin crawls. Why, you ask? These politically correct, best-practice mongers had the gall to alter the word to mean weakness, or to reference an area that needs improvement.
This may not be news to you but apparently I didn’t get the memo until I got a new gig that moved me from big corporate to even bigger corporate. I began to hear a familiar term being used in a perplexing context. My new coworkers would say things like, “we have some opportunity areas that we’ll need to get addressed right away.” Or, “there were a ton of opportunities on her mid-year review, I’m not sure she’ll get a decent bonus this time around.” Then it dawned on me that the word opportunity was being used as a euphemism to avoid saying something or someone needed improvement.
Apparently these scaredy-cat drone bosses are too afraid to say awful words like, weakness, drawbacks, concerns, issues, limitations, difficulties and disadvantages to mature adults. For an institution (Corporate America) that has long claimed to be grounded in reality, and would often accuse the government of being superfluous, this excessive use of euphemisms seem alarmingly hypocritical to me. Nevertheless, here’s yet another example of corporate finding another way to turn neutral, often benign terms and phrases into something completely different than the original meaning. And in the case of the word “opportunity,” bosses turned it into something sinister.
As children we were taught to cherish opportunities. But in corporate, when “opportunity” comes a knocking at your doorstep, don’t get excited, don’t be grateful. Be afraid (be very afraid). Because my dear fellow worker, you’ve just been told to get your crap together!
A Champion’s Cause:
“No one sat me down and taught me this stuff. I had to learn it all on my own by bumping my head and watching others do the same…so I freely give away all that I know to help others just like me.”
- Steele A. Champion
I really hope that this post helped you in some way or another. And if it has, do me a favor and share this with someone or better yet, go ahead and provide your name and email address below to subscribe to TalkLikeTheBoss.com. We’ll send you more posts just like this directly to your inbox.
Join the TLTB clan and get the good stuff
directly in your inbox