Maria Miller’s handy guide to non-threatening phrase use

maria miller

“Do you want some?” When offering tea

Have you ever been embarrassed when a finance director keeps on asking you to justify your expenses claim? Maybe you were busy doing important stuff and forgot to explain but telling him to ‘P*ss off’ is rarely wise.

Sometimes your own career simply hasn’t prepared you for the task. If, say, you’ve worked in advertising – making things up for a living – you might not realise that sometimes people are supposed to be open and honest.

Again, it may be difficult to find exactly the right words when telephoning people who’ve found you out. Practice makes perfect of course and context is important, so here’s a few examples to help you select the mot juste in a variety of situations.

  • “Who are you looking at?” When checking whether or not someone with a squint is talking to you.
  • “Do you like hospital food, mate?” When visiting a sick spouse
  • “We know where you live.” When arranging a John Lewis delivery for a customer
  • “You and who’s army” (have bought tickets to see ‘The Who’)
  • “Shame if your horse accidentally got its head cut off.” When you’re selling pet insurance
  • “Maria has obviously been having quite a lot of editors’ meetings around Leveson at the moment. So I’m just going to flag up that connection for you to think about.” When a journalist is investigating a possibly dodgy expenses claim

All of the above are completely fine.

Sadly, no matter how honest you’ve been, it’s still possible you’ll have to repay a small percentage of any over-claimed bunce. However, the remainder of the swag may be offset against ‘an apology’ at the rate of £1250 a second. You won’t have to mean it, or even look as if you mean it. A nice little earner.

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