A Larner's Guide To Corpo Babble

So you're sitting in your enterprise environment one day, interfacing with your boss, when you learn that, because of the need to de-layer, you're about to help your corporation rightsize itself. Aren't you lucky?

Not really. You've just been canned. The lingo is corpo-babble--important-sounding, often-incomprehensible jargon. Some of it, of course, is code that any group develops. Increasingly, though, it masks the ugliness of life at layoff-prone companies. Wesley Poriotis, CEO of New York executive recruiter Wesley, Brown & Bartle, has counted 28 euphemisms for "firing."

Outside the bloody downsizing lexicon, new words and phrases pop up regularly. In high-tech companies, we find "six sigma quality." Translation: "good." Among credit-card issuers, market share is called "share of wallet." And there's the verb "to incent," as in to give you an incentive. "Enterprise environment"? Office. That's where you "interface." If you haven't been "rightsized," that is.