(The 800-Pound Gorilla is an annoying business phrase and is just one of the 212 Most Annoying Business Phrases Managers Effuse, Confuse, and Overuse detailed in the hilarious must-have guide for every workplace: The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room. Available right now on Amazon.)
Just as the distance can vary with the 30,000-Foot View, so too can the weight (and species) of our gorilla. Over the course of Steve’s business career, he’s been warned of the 300-pound gorilla and the 5,000-pound gorilla and the 30,000-pound gorilla. Strangely, he’s also been told not to upset the 2,000-pound elephant in the room.
However, the most interesting multivariable misuse of this phrase happened over a decade ago when an up-and-coming young manager told a group of his peers and some senior executives in a large meeting, “I think it’s time we all addressed the 30,000-pound gorilla in the room.”
This came out of nowhere, and the young manager didn’t bother to explain why or even to whom he was referring when he described this King Kong-like, fifteen-ton behemoth. He just said it; then appeared to regret he said it; then (thankfully) shut his mouth for the rest of the meeting.
(Of course, we’re thrilled Steve was present when that young manager uttered this creative mash-up; otherwise we would’ve struggled for an appropriate title for this book.)
This saying, of course, is meant to describe someone or something so powerful they seem unbeatable. We’ve heard this phrase used to describe tough competitors, tough customers, and tough bosses. Given its various meanings, it usually cannot be uttered without also mentioning the associated gorilla (competitor, customer, boss), making its annoying overuse also annoyingly redundant.
Replacement phrases: Tough competitor; Market leader
See also: Elephant in the Room
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon.