My man TKaps and I, back in the halcyon days of ESPN, used to have a joke about the word “chat.” The joke wasn’t that funny, but here goes: a “chat” should be a nice thing, right? Like if your grandmother came to you and wanted to have a chat, that would be some warm fuzzy type stuff, no? But at ESPN, when a supervisor says they want to “have a chat,” it basically means you’re totally fucked. The word “chat,” thus, was re-contextualized from “sweet family time thing” to “You fucked up and now you’re getting reemed out.” I used to think this was just ESPN. Later I learned it was basically every job and manager under the sun.
Office life did the same to the word “hop,” in some ways.
If you did a word association on the word “hop,” chances are you’d come to something like “hopscotch” or young children playing. I feel most minds would go there first. Maybe a bunny?
Now in a work context, I’d estimate that about 79 percent of people I’ve ever worked with — a number I totally made up just now — have used the expression “hop on a call” or “I’ve got to hop on a call” at some point in their life. I heard it five times yesterday; that’s basically once per hour. I’ve thought about this enough that I once wrote a post on it.
Unpack this for a second.
You take a word like “hop” — child-like in nature — and you turn it into something where you’re about to talk to someone on the phone about work. It’s not fun. It’s probably boring or transactional. You’re probably eating a bagel as you do it.
That brings me to the bigger point here — does the fact that everyone says “hop on a call” mean they lack respect for the process of actually doing the call? Let’s say a given conference call has 5 people on it, right? (Most probably have double that.) You gotta figure 1 of those people thinks the meeting is pretty important, right? Like for that person, that meeting is crucial to moving forward a deliverable? But for the other four people, they’re off telling their in-person co-workers that they gotta go “hop” on a call — does that mean they don’t view it as something major?
I bet when people have really important, career-advancement-defining phone meetings, they don’t tell their co-workers they’re about to “hop” on a call.
This is either the stupidest thing I’ve ever written/thought or, perhaps, the most insightful. Is the simple use of a word representative of the entire problem with meetings in the first place? (Namely, that not everyone is on the same page from the jump.)