Why talk at work is a Shakespearean tragedy

“Let me have men about me that are fat... Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.”

― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Work has a shadow-language.

The words change. The illusion remains

When we first learn to speak it, we're young, probably fresh out of college.

We think it’s polish and that fluency is necessary for success.

We pepper our language with it.

There’s a lot of not saying what you really mean at work.

Who could have possibly imagined that would work out all right?

“Hit the ground running”


“Team player”


It’s a type of in-group language we only speak because it feels like the "abracadabra" that will give us access.

Flip through your mental files to someone who's meant something to you in your career. Someone you respect and learned from.

Did they speak the shadow language?

I bet what you liked about them is that they spoke of the real thing not the shadow of the thing.

Shadow language: such things are dangerous.


The best thing you can do for your career is help someone else with theirs.

In that spirit...

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