April 4, 2010

I just knew they were talking gibberish

August 23, 2008

Reading the reader’s mind

A busy week of business travel behind me, I will resume posts soon.

This cartoon is an apt representation of my work as a plain language consultant: http://www.comics.com/comics/fminus/index.html.

March 31, 2008

Humour at work, Workopolis

Workopolis’ Humour Classification Report:

This year Workopolis provides information about who is doing the joking
and how to do humour right this April Fool’s Day.

– Sarcastic/witty jokester: This workplace comedian may appear to have
it easy with a punch line for every situation, but humour isn’t
always the right solution. While it tends comes across as witty and
clever, if done too often or gone wrong, his humour can be perceived
as sarcastic. He isn’t shy to add colour commentary in any and all
situations – in front of the boss, colleagues or whomever. And
because of the witty approach to his humour, he is confident in his
delivery and always gets a laugh.

– Workopolis’ advice: Think before you joke. Evaluate the situation,
your audience and your injection of humour. Will it get a laugh
from most of the room? Will it take the meeting off strategy? Are
you interrupting and offending anyone? Keeping quiet could be the
best approach in serious situations, meetings or environments.

– Obnoxious or inappropriate joker: She’s easy to identify since there
is often an uncomfortable silence that follows her humour. And she
doesn’t hesitate to incorporate her humour into any situation. She
has a hard time differentiating between workplace humour and social
humour and often crosses the line with inappropriate language and
subject matters. Don’t follow her lead this April Fool’s Day!

– Workopolis’ advice: You are still at work, and what may get a
laugh with your friends, isn’t always appropriate with your
colleagues. Avoid topics that really don’t lend themselves to
humour – anything you’d be afraid to say to your mother, doesn’t
belong in the workplace either. Evaluate each situation and assess
the room before you open with a punch line. Your colleagues will
appreciate your humour more if you use it cautiously.

– Trying too hard to be funny jokester: He’s often relying on humour to
get attention and lighten uncomfortable situations. He rarely hears
the laugh track after his punch line, but that only pushes him to try
harder. His comments and attempts at humour distract the audience
more than amuse. According to the Workopolis April Fool’s Day poll,
only two per cent of Canadians believe humour should be used at work
to get attention or stand out from others. That means this approach
to workplace humour is in the minority and more people are
uncomfortable with your humour than approve.

– Workopolis’ advice: You don’t have to have the last word, and you
certainly don’t need to make a comment every time you’re in the
room. The more you say, the less funny you are, and the fewer
laughs you’ll get. Try other techniques to earn respect from your
colleagues and save your humour for the right or best situation.
In this case, less is more.

– The Prankster: This joker often relies on physical practical jokes to
get a reaction from his colleagues. He is clever in his approach and
aims to trick people – whether turning to email sabotage, rearranging
office furniture, whoopee cushions or crank phone calls. Be weary of
this workplace comic.

– Workopolis’ advice: April Fool’s Day was made for you! Be sure you
know your audience well and understand the limitations of
workplace pranks. Before your prank, do your research and find out
if it’s acceptable to pull a practical joke on the boss. Often
your humour involves tricking people one at a time, so make sure
your victims can handle your sense of humour.

– Putting it all on the line funny: This prankster goes a step beyond
“Trying too hard to be funny”. She stops at nothing to get a laugh -
even at the expense of her career or colleagues. She often spends
more time crafting the right prank instead of focusing on her work.
She’s willing to embarrass herself in front of room full of
colleagues to get attention. April Fool’s Day is a dangerous day for
this workplace clown as she feels it’s a no holds barred-type of day.

– Workopolis’ advice: Re-evaluate your career – maybe you were more
suited for the life of a comedian? While work environments are
finding more room for humour, not all corporate cultures tolerate
yours. Understand what’s acceptable and appropriate in your work
environment before you go too far. Tone it down and save up more
of your humour and pranks for outside of work social situations.

The rules of humour at work:

While each work environment has its own specific approach to humour and
pranks on the job, workopolis.com offers the following advice to those
planning a prank this April Fool’s Day or any day of the year:

– Know your corporate culture: While there may not be a formal rule in
place, do your research first and find out how tolerant your
workplace is of practical jokes. If it’s not widely accepted,
reconsider your plans for April 1st. If it is allowed, know your

– Know who’s off limits: Though half of working Canadians report their
workplaces allow pranks, does that include the boss? Your manager?
Your subordinates? Recognize who has a sense of humour, who will
appreciate your humour and who you should avoid.

– Know how far you can go: It may be just a joke, but more importantly,
you’re still at work and should use cautious judgement before you go
too far. Ask yourself if the prank was played on you, would you find
it funny? Can this prank only be tested on certain colleagues? If the
answer to either of these questions is no, reconsider your practical

– Know when the timing is right: Even if you work for an environment
that encourages humour and pranks, there is a time and a place for
everything. Consider: are your colleagues on deadline? Are there
clients or important guests in your office? Is it too tense and a
practical joke will push them over the edge? What kind of a message
will you send if it’s your first day of work and you’re the
originator of a workplace prank?

– Know what to do if you’ve gone too far: You may take every necessary
precaution to ensure humour is used appropriately at work, but it can
still backfire. First, find out where you went wrong – was the timing
off? Did you target the wrong person? If you offended someone
specifically, formally apologize.

January 28, 2008

In Honor of Lego’s 50th Anniversay

The legal description:

A rectilinear array of uniform, smooth-sided, flat-topped, cylindrical, co-planar protuberances, the proportions of height, diameter and center-to-center spacing of which are approximately 2 : 5 : 8. Where there is more than one row of protuberances, they are arranged in mutually orthogonal rows and columns.

Kirkbi AG v. Ritvik Holdings Inc. 2005 SCC 65 at para. 41

September 5, 2007

Scientist makes funny–it can happen

Guide to translating scientific papers into plain English.

This post by T. Ryan Gregory offers a guide to scientific bafflegab.

July 6, 2007

Diversity series

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.