What Common Workplace Phrases Really Mean

What Common Workplace Phrases Really Mean

Just how different is the 9 to 5 you from the true-to-life you—pretty different or a lot different? 😄 We don’t necessarily work the same jobs nor do we work for the same employers, yet somehow we all speak the same (often passive aggressive) business lingo we don’t use elsewhere. While on the surface these common workplace phrases seem polite and professional, here’s what we all secretly mean when we say them: 

As Per My Last Email

What it’s supposed to sound like: Hey, here’s a gentle reminder in case you overlooked my last email!

What it really means: Stop asking stupid questions and actually read my emails. I don’t have all the time in the world to respond to questions I have already answered if you were in the least bit bothered to comprehend everything I have told you a million times.




 girl fake smiling

To respond to your email 25 working minutes ago..

What it’s supposed to sound like: Here’s an innocent response to your email from 4:25 pm last Friday. 

What it really means: You absolutely do not have the right to say you emailed me “3 days ago” when you really emailed me 25 minutes before we’re all allowed to clock out right before the weekend. My Saturdays and Sundays aren’t spent replying to emails you could have sent much earlier in the week. Get off your high horse. 



Just wanted to follow up on

What it’s supposed to sound like: I understand you may be busy, would love to hear from you soon!

What it really means: I’m onto you now. I have receipts in case you still continue to ignore me. You better respond because my next move would be to CC your boss and you don’t want that happening, do you? 



 guy working while looking relaxed

I currently have a lot on my plate

What it’s supposed to sound like: I’m pretty busy as of the moment, I'd love to give you a hand as soon as possible! 

What it really means: I’m not anyone’s work superhero. Do not run to me for help. I’m barely getting by as it is so I beg of you to please do your own job and leave me alone. 



Do you want me to re-send it to you?

What it’s supposed to sound like: I understand you’re having some trouble looking for that file, I’d love to help you out!

What it really means: It literally only took me a second to type in my search bar to see that file you claim you’re “having some difficulty finding”, how about you learn to use the search function and stop bothering me over something a child could do? 





girl smirking

Correct me if I'm wrong, but

What it’s supposed to sound like: I’m not entirely sure I’m on the same page, can you clarify it for me, please?

What it really means: I 100% know I’m right, which means I’m also 100% sure you’re wrong; I just wanted to shove that information to your face. If you try to disagree with me, I have all the data to back me up. 



 I totally understand your urgency

What it’s supposed to sound like: I get why you’re stressing, I'm here for you!

What it really means: Frankly, I don’t care that this situation is causing you some stress. Pull yourself together and stop rushing me. I said I'll work on it, I didn’t say I will drop everything in an instant to work on it. 




 girl screaming

With all due respect

What it’s supposed to sound like: I’m a tad frustrated right now, but we can work this out. 

What it really means: In my head I have already punched and kicked you a thousand times. My ears are ringing because from your incredible lack of incompetence. I’m trying my best to keep it together so consider this your last warning.



Could you provide me some more details please?

What it’s supposed to sound like: Sorry, I don’t understand.

What it really means: I don’t know what alien language you were speaking just now, but I understood zero of what you said. How about you take some speech classes and actually explain your thoughts in a manner that’s comprehensible to us? 



 girl on her laptop looking annoyed

Just to clarify

What it’s supposed to sound like: I just want to make sure I understand what you told me perfectly

What it really means: You must have a knack for sewing up contradicting statements. How about you help trim down all the unnecessary back and forth by actually being coherent next time? 

To Conclude

In a setting where we’re expected to be respectful and formal all the time, it pays to read between the lines! 😂 We hope these candid work phrase translations made you feel relieved to know you’re not alone. What would you add to this mix? Let us know via Instagram DM @harmoni.desk!

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