1. What they say: We could really use your support on this project. Can you stay late tonight?
What they mean: The rest of our team is working late on a project tonight. We don’t actually need you to do any real work, but we need you to stay late and order food for the rest of the team. Please send out some menu options, and make sure the food is here by 6 p.m., or you will incur the wrath of very hungry professionals.
2. What they say: This role is amazing because it will be great exposure for you.
What they mean: This role is going to be better than most entry-level jobs, because the President of the company will actually know you exist, which could help you down the road. This does not mean that the President will actually acknowledge you, or remember your name, so don’t get too excited.
3. What they say: Can you hop on this call quickly?
What they mean: There’s a conference call right now, and I sent a calendar invitation for it, but didn’t include you on it because I literally forgot you existed. I’m sorry. Will you please get your ass into this conference room, and take notes?
4. What they say: You and I can connect about this offline.
What they mean: I need you to do something for me, but I don’t want to waste the precious time in front of other people to delegate. Find me after to get the assignment.
5. What they say: I know you’re not the intern, but just this once, would you mind running out to grab some coffee?
What they mean: I know you’re not the intern, but everyone once in a while I’m going to treat you like one. Please don’t hate me for it.
6. What they say: You’re SO lucky, I wish I still made overtime.
What they mean: I’m legitimately jealous that you make overtime, but now that those words have come out of my mouth, I realize that statement is really unfair because I make twice as much as you. I’m obviously not going to acknowledge that now, so just go with it.
7. What they say: You have to pay your dues in this industry.
What they mean: Someone put me through the ringer when I was an entry-level employee and so it’s only fair that I get to do the same to you.
8. What they say: I don’t have time to explain it now, but let’s circle back after my trip and I’ll walk you through it.
What they mean: I need you to figure this out for yourself. By the time I get back from my trip, please be sure you’ve approached the right people and understood the concept.
9. What they say: That was an interesting approach, but I’d like you to do it this way instead.
What they mean: That was wrong. You did it wrong. Don’t ever do it that way ever again.
10. What they say: Can you come take a look at this issue I’m having with my computer?
What they mean: I am having an issue with Microsoft word, or the Internet, or social media and I can’t figure it out. You’re young, so can you please come fix it because you understand how to work Twitter?
11. What they say: So, what did you do before this job?
What they mean: This is your first “real” job and FYI, I can tell.
12. What they say: Please don’t hesitate to reach out to so-and-so with questions or concerns.
What they mean: I don’t even want to deal with your questions on this, ask so-and-so instead.
13. What they say: I have this great project for you.
What they mean: There’s this thing that literally no one else wants to do, but great news! I can make you do it.
14. What they say: Let’s discuss the “key learnings” from last night’s event.
What they mean: Here are 5 things I’d really like you to not fuck up next time we have an event.
15. What they say: *In a reply email* Looping in (insert subordinate’s name here) to provide further information.
What they mean: Dear subordinate, please respond to this email with the information these people need because I either don’t have the information, or don’t have the time to respond to it.
16. What they say: I feel like we’re not communicating very well lately.
What they mean: I’m beginning to think that you secretly hate me. So let’s level and just tell me the truth, do you? You can totally tell me. I mean, granted, I won’t take it well but let’s get it out in the open.
17. What they say: Now that you’re leaving, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you some advice so you can improve your performance at your next job.
What they mean: Now that you’re leaving, I’d like to take this time to air my grievances and tell you how I really feel about you.