Monday, April 10, 2006


Or, how to do a little damning with faint praise when it counts

By The Right Honorable James Offleyhoo, former Grand-Pooh Bah of the Backside Bench-Warming Bureau, and author of a hugely popular eclectic etiquette guide entitled, “What Color Velvet Cushion Should You Order for Your Next Board Room Chair?”

Climbing the steps to success can sometimes be a tad messy, (which is why I’ve created several absolutely trivial yet tittering things to do along the way).

In a world full of non-stop networking and nebulous name-dropping, it is high time that everyone learns the long-lost art of irrelevant faultfinding to accompany the fatuous flattery that seems to abound everywhere.

After all, nobody is perfect, (even if they do wear a “Superman” t-shirt or a wireless “wonder-bra” beneath their business attire). And, in today’s environment of vapid verbiage, it’s certainly best to follow the KISS principle.

In the interest keeping things short and simple, the best way to support those glib-enhanced, goal-oriented, boardroom-bound, robust rabbits on their rise through the ranks of corporate confabulation is to damn them with faint praise.

Here are a few fine examples of ripsnorting remarks one may wish to drop casually in the ears of those who might consider hiring these pitter-pattering yet prodigious pets.

  • “George will be a tremendous asset to your management team, when he can find his key to the executive washroom or his hand-held digital device with his “to do” list on it.”

  • “It has been my pleasure to have known Mary-Beth Flotsom-Jettison since childhood; she’ll make an exceptional executive assistant, (if she’s permitted to run the corporate fitness program consisting of daily dodge-ball games, hopscotch, and kick-the-can.)”

  • "Peter Paternoster, a hard-working, dedicated customer service coordinator has but one minor faux-pas …telling shaggy dog stories on company time, (which is why he’s affectionately known by his family and friends as “Bite-the-Biscuit”).”

  • “If there’s one thing that Jessy Jawbone can do it’s make a lasting impression on your bottom line; (and if I recall, she never shied away from taste-testing margaritas and tequilas or dipping her fingers into the anchovies and caviar at our corporate retreats!)”

  • “Percy Fletch is a far-sighted yet flexible problem-solving civil engineer when it comes to draining swamps, emptying flooded mine shafts, or parting waters in raging rivers for movie audiences; (my only reservation might be, can he fill up my gas tank correctly?")

As my dear mother used to say, when in doubt about what to say about someone, think of it like a meal. “Sprinkle a hint of spice or add a pinch of salt …it’s bound to taste better.”


Note: There are 17,000 web pages dedicated to the notion of "damning with faint praise", for those wishing to pursue this fascinating topic in more detail.


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