(Dead in the Water is an annoying business term 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.)
Dead in the Water
If we can’t agree on every annoying phrase in this book, can we at least agree the morbid slang used in business needs to go?
Dead in the water, like all other dark corporate jargon, is grossly misused. While the speaker intends to convey the message that a project, deal, proposal, relationship, or employee has been or will be canceled, ended, or terminated, relaying to us that something is dead in the water is, well, overkill.
Moreover, like that sentence, it’s annoying overkill.
If you take a moment to think about it, saying someone is dead in the water is pretty gross. They’re bloated and discolored and putrid. Yuck.
Sure, for the purists reading this, dead in the water is a reference to an immobile boat; therefore, its use means merely that something is stalled. No matter; enough of the rest of humanity believes this refers to a dead body that it goes beyond simply irritating.
We have a novel idea: why don’t we think before we speak? Furthermore, instead of defaulting to clichés, let’s say exactly what we mean… in plain language… using no metaphors… with the fewest syllables possible.
Try this: “The project is on hold.”
See, wasn’t that clear, concise, and whole lot less disgusting than telling us, “The project is dead in the water?”
Replacement phrases: Canceled; Ended; Terminated; Done; Stalled
See also: Beat a Dead Horse
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon