Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Retreat is a shady term

Department retreat today, so I'll just leave you with these photos from the weekend -- I love dappled shade!

As for work retreats, although I appreciate the need to get away from the everyday interruptions in order to resolve issues and draft longer-term policy, I nevertheless resent the borrowing of a term I once associated with more spiritual undertakings. When Pater worked in Ottawa, I used to tease him about going to a "retreat" from 5 'til 7:30 or so on a weeknight, especially since his work weeks were already 60 hours. It seemed to me that if any retreating were to be done, it should be away from, rather than towards, work. And now here I am heading off to another annual retreat -- that'll teach me to tease!In other news, I was sorting out my potential travel wardrobe again yesterday -- I filled the suitcase last week so I could see what might work and now I'm taking out and replacing and putting back in . . . I'll probably take some pics in the next few days and see what you think.When you looking at these rich deep greens, the play of light in soothing shadow, can you see why I'm a bit puzzled as to why I should be "retreating" to a 5th-floor boardroom to spend a day talking about department policy with colleagues?

Which work-based euphemisms irritate you? Or any euphemisms, for that matter? Are you asked to retreat occasionally? regularly?


  1. "Out of the box" is one that bugs me.Large companies and corporate culture is all about the box. Get to far from the box and you get axed. But, as I don't work in a corporation I am really outside the box.

    Hope you get to literally retreat in your garden very soon.

  2. Structural adjustment, rightsize, rationalize and any other HR jargon that really means cut jobs and expect those left to do them as well as their own.

    I hear the term "offsite" (now used as a noun) more often than "retreat". I don't connect "retreat" to work. To me it implies withdrawl from the daily world, whether for spiritual or restorative purposes.

  3. "Retreat" has nothing to do with work. It has to do with withdrawing from the world. Although I suppose you could use it as a verb in a military sense, you are retreating from the daily grind of work to regroup elsewhere. Of course then it implies defeat, or at least the potential for defeat, so that may not be so good either.

    I think businesses and people should really think about the meanings and implications of the words they co-opt.

    I think I have just grown to ignore the stupid euphemisms because what really annoys me is not a euphemism at all. I am driven to distraction by the almost ubiquitous use of "on this date" instead of "today". As in "On this date we should...." or this "must be done on this date" instead of saying "It must be done today. I always want to say "on what date?" just to force someone to say "today".

  4. We call these irritating days INSET days, mostly they are badly organised events that teach us, very slowly how to suck an egg.
    I would get more from a visit to The Tate Modern and a coffee.
    I must finally say I LOVE your Polka Dot coat it is DIVINE, very Comme de Garcon and oh so very Paris...and London of course!
    Back fat is a real problem and it is not a little ironic yours was caused by a slimming aid, I wear a vest top with a built in bra because I am so paranoid about it.
    Finally, I am glad your lilacs flowered, ours are now over, it goes too quickly but they are a wonderful tree to have and the photographs look lovely.

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  7. LBR: Weasels can't be boxed! They're always out of those boxes, bien sûr
    Duchesse: Yes! exactly what I mean, and after a day's supposed retreat yesterday, I don't feel nourished at all.
    Mardel: In fact, one of my colleagues raised the point at the beginning of the day, suggesting that as English profs we needed to be especially careful about language and resist the corporate talk.
    I'm with you on those pretentious and wordy phrases that turn simple concepts such as "today" into flabby obscurities such as "on this date." Yuck!
    Alison: Inset . . . what an interesting term -- as though they somehow pried apart the days to tuck another one in between.
    And thanks for the coat encouragement -- I do think it will be coming with me now.

  8. It stands for In Service Training, trust me after 25 years I am still waiting for some. Money for old rope for a few!

  9. Alison: I had to look up that expression, but having done so, I heartily agree with the sentiment.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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