(Pass Muster 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.)
Yes, we realize we just referenced the television series Cheers a couple of annoying phrases ago; however, if you’ve ever watched “The Peterson Principle” (Season 4, Episode 18), you probably get a smile on your face every time your annoying (and likely octogenarian) boss uses the most outdated phrase available today.
In this episode, Norm (he with the most well-known butt-on-a-barstool in television history) reports he lost a promotion because his wife Vera didn’t pass muster when having lunch with the other company wives.
To this, Woody famously adds, “Well maybe she couldn’t reach it.”
Brilliant; and something that crosses our minds whenever we hear someone use pass muster in a business setting. For us, remembering this Woody-ism is one of those little things you should have in your head that can make the normally excruciating workday seem brighter; more cheerful; even downright funny.
The term pass muster should be stricken from the business lexicon not just because it’s annoying, but because it’s a centuries-old military saying that holds little meaning in today’s business environment.
Norm used it correctly. In that, he meant Vera didn’t pass inspection. For those who use it in your workplace, pass muster can mean everything from simply submitting a report on time to the success or failure of an entire project.
If your boss ever says someone didn’t pass muster on a given task, be sure to add, “Well, maybe she couldn’t reach it.”
If you do this in your head, you’ll smile. If you do this out loud, you’ll smile, and your coworkers will chuckle. Your boss? Who cares? He’s stuck somewhere in the 1600s.
Replacement phrases: Pass inspection; Succeed; Fail
See also: Cut the Mustard
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon