The Vocabulary of Working at an Apple Store: The Word ‘Unfortunately’ Should Not Pass Your Lips

Gleaming, the cube.

In light of reprinted press release an article about Apple store culture in a recent issue of Wall Street Journal, Gawker decided to solicited a more candid take on life behind the Genius Bar by asking from current and former Apple store employees.

According to the testimony they posted Apple frowns upon complaining about customers in the break room and even has a “team of lawyers, data miners” and “forensic internetters” who scan web forums for employee complaints and take action on non-disclosure agreements. Plus, Apple heavily polices what words can be said while working.

At classes on what not to say “stop words” include: “unfortunately” which should be spun into the sunnier “as it turns out.” If a customer comes in telling you they took their iPhone for a bath or thought it could use a cup of coffee, the urge to say “That’s stupid” or “That wasn’t smart” should quickly be replaced with “That’s not recommended.” There are also some classics, like translating”problems” into “issues.” Lest you think these are mainly guidelines, one employee reported a 90-day probation period for the crime of saying “unfortunately” too much.

But that doesn’t mean Apple isn’t an equal-opportunity language cop. As one employee told Gawker:

“Managers were instructed to use specific buzz words and phrases when speaking to us. For example, “I’ll reach out to you” was a good one. I would often get “reached out to” to attend mandatory store meetings. Even better was the phrase “what questions do you have,” instead of “do you have any questions.” They use the former because it’s supposed to sound more open and welcome to questions. I just thought it sounded scripted. They used it a lot in the training program- I called them out on it and got a lecture on how to communicate with others.”

  The Vocabulary of Working at an Apple Store: The Word ‘Unfortunately’ Should Not Pass Your Lips