Rather than dish out the bad news directly, the executive vice-president takes refuge behind a curious subjunctive: “We plan that this would result in an estimated reduction of 12,500 . . . employees.”

Microsoft executive Stephen Elop’s 1,100-word memo, which casually mentions massive job cuts, is a case study in how not to write(...)

With jobs, unlike with loo paper, there are many axes to grind. Photograph: Getty Images

People feel compelled to review everyday items but are more reticent regarding their work

When the contest is between the big firms it is especially pointless. Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: employing a professional services firm is all about back-covering

Facebook chief Sheryl Sandberg. “Her ‘didn’t mean to upset you’ was patronising and, worse than that, a lie.” Photograph: EPA/Money Sharma

Opinion: women are more guilty than men of unnecessary apologising

The best work-avoidance technique of all is to be perfectly willing, but perfectly incompetent.

The equivalent of the avoiding washing-up technique at work is to be hopeless at small tasks

“A few years ago a psychological science journal published research that concluded there was nothing great about diverse teams per se. They were good if you wanted to do something creative or innovative. But if you wanted to slog on with business as usual then homogenous teams did the job better.” Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: a wide cross-section brings with it the danger of groupthink

“Apple’s hitherto nice way with words was almost certainly a part of its success. Perhaps the language helped cause the success, or perhaps the success caused the language.” Photograph: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Opinion: Apple’s ugly words suggest it has not hung on to what made it different

“Those who feel ‘harmonious passion’ towards work enjoy their jobs and experience that lovely sense of ‘flow’ when they are in the thick of it.”

Opinion: being passionate about work is just another example of language inflation

“Anyone with the gumption to reach the boardroom has a grotesquely inflated drive to succeed far more powerful than a factory full of Gucci watches.” Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Opinion: performance incentives are needless and unfair

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