When In Doubt, Use Latin

Veni, Vidi, Vici

If in the business world you want to sound like you know what you are doing when you don't, just start using random foreign expressions.

For some reason, Dutch managers find it to be worldly to drop in English words mid-sentence. The English words 'mindset', 'accountablity', 'key issue', 'leverage' and 'kick off' give the average Dutch manager instant management glamour.

For example, it is considered very professional to start a Dutch sentence with "Basically..." and end it with a firmly exclaimed "Period!" Sometimes, I simply get an "OUT OF THE BOX PLEASE!" yelped at me in a meeting, when I'm apparently not bringing the right ideas. I really feel the need to go backward now that everyone seems to feel the need to 'go forward', and I do not even want talk about the 'Touch Base' People.

Random English sayings seem to go in and out of fashion, too. For some mysterious reason, 'The proof in the pudding is in the eating' is very popular amongst managers in the Netherlands right now. I have heard this comment applied in so many situations that I now believe the world outside of the box consists solely of desserts.

The random use of foreign expressions is a universal weapon for the insecure in the corporate world.

I once had to negotiate a contract with an English lawyer who was alternating between speaking and writing in Latin and English on a 50/50 basis. It was basically dealmaking with Virgil. It didn't seem to matter that the Latin additions in the e-mails he sent were meaningless. But prima facie, it did lend his random comments some Old World gravitas.

So if you want to give your business e-mails some pseudo-academic clout this week, maybe you can add some Dutch. Like: laten we alle neuzen dezelfde kant op krijgen.*

*A management cliche meaning: Let's point all the noses in the same direction.