The San Francisco Conference

Civil discourse is hard to come by these days, and it is never easy to make an unpopular topic seem friendly.  There are many social and political stances that nearly everyone has made their mind up on, and approaching them with some sense of charm could be really important to getting your words heard. Here are some fun little idioms we can work into business talk that can help some audiences relate to you.

Let’s talk turkey

Translation: let’s get down to business.

Origin: Pilgrims and Native Americans bargaining over wild turkeys or spoils of hunting

Example: After a few minutes of small talk at the neighborhood association, June interceded, “Alright friends, let’s talk turkey.”

Too much sugar for a dime

Translation: the price is too low for the cost.

Origin: Sugar producers would sell their good to vendors for a bulk price.  If the price was not high enough, the producers did not make a profit or break even.

Example: The settlement offered to pay her client damages in exchange for no admission of wrongdoing and for her silence.  June shook her head and said, “that’s too much sugar for a dime.”

Highway robbery

Translation: Paying way too much for something.

Origin: Robberies that take place on the side of the road against travelers.

Example: As she reviewed the budget, June said, “well our construction contractors got away with a highway robbery.  We need to negotiate a tighter deadline with incentives for early completion if we have to pay them an hourly fee.”

Riding on high center 

Translation: stuck in one place

Origin: When tire tracks wore old dirt roads down enough, the bottom of cars would get stuck with the high center of the road under them.

Example: June asked the committee, “it seems like we’re riding on high center. What do we need to do to help you get going?”