(Play Ball 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.)
Though not used as much in business today as in the past, this one is still annoying when you hear someone say it… and fairly sinister when it’s said to you.
The inference your sleazy boss is making when he asks you to play ball is for you to “look the other way and just go along with the rest of the team on this one.” In other words, don’t do what’s right, just do what’s best for all concerned.
Of course, not every use of play ball in business is intended to separate someone from their moral compass. Sometimes, you’ll hear play ball when one of the extra lazy among the management ranks is inquiring about an agreement with a potential customer or partner.
“Do you think they’ll play ball?”
“Umm, no. We think they’ll sign the contract, but since this isn’t a freaking game, it’s doubtful they’ll play ball. Of course, if they don’t sign the agreement, it’s probably because you sound like a character from Mad Men. Now, come join the rest of us in the twenty-first century, please.”
Replacement phrases: Agree; Go along with
See also: Team Player
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon