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If there is a problem at work and I want to convey to others at a similar level to me, that I would like to solve the problem "between ourselves" and not involve the boss or management - is there a good phrase or expression for that? Usually I would use something such as "keep this between ourselves" or "sort this out amongst ourselves" or "figure this out ourselves", but I cannot help but feel there should be a good expression to use.

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I suppose "English" in the title rules out one of my favourites - mano-a-mano –  FumbleFingers Dec 2 '11 at 15:23
    
@FumbleFingers: that's not English? (like 'croissant' it's used everyday by English speakers). –  Mitch Dec 2 '11 at 15:52
    
I was being a bit tichy (tongue-in-cheek, flippant). But it wouldn't suit OP's context anyway, because he's not squaring up for a fight with his work colleagues, or trying to avoid physical confrontation by having an honest heart-to-heart (tete-a-tete). –  FumbleFingers Dec 2 '11 at 16:42
    
It's not idiomatic per se, but "Let's tackle/handle this ourselves" seems appropriate. –  onomatomaniak Dec 2 '11 at 20:57

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Noting OP's comment that he doesn't want any suggestion of conspiracy or secrecy, I have to say I don't think there are many suitable idioms. OP himself says it's in the context of being more efficient - which I think implies the negative corrolary that involving management is less efficient.

The best I can come up with is Let's deal with this at the coalface, which I think emphasises the benefits of local autonomy without particularly maligning TPTB.

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I'm going for this one - let's deal with this at the coalface says keep it between us, but it's a positive message and does not even hint at anything untoward or secretive. –  planetjones Dec 5 '11 at 10:19
    
I see exactly what you mean about the unwanted secrecy, conspiracy overtones of Brian's "gatepost". Gnawme's "escalate" also minimises that aspect. But even though I said I don't think there will be many suitable idioms, I'm a bit surprised we've not been able to offer you a somewhat wider selection here. –  FumbleFingers Dec 5 '11 at 15:31
    
Ah, when the OP asked for a "good English expression," they apparently meant a good BrEnglish expression. I've never heard this expression before; +1 for the novelty... –  Gnawme Dec 5 '11 at 18:48

Between you and me and the gatepost is a phrase I sometimes hear used to mean keeping some information confined to the speaker and the listeners.

Concealing a minor error or accident or removing evidence of the consequences is sometimes called squaring it up; this has masonic undertones and is well-suited to a conspiratorial activity.

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Thanks Brian - I was not familiar with the gatepost phrase. I think I want a phrase which is mean positively i.e. it's not conspiratorial or anything untoward, it's just the most effective means to get things done. –  planetjones Dec 2 '11 at 15:11
    
'squaring it up' doesn't sound conspiratorial to me, it sounds rather just making minor adjustments (not really about communication a way from oversight). –  Mitch Dec 2 '11 at 15:50
    
@Mitch, perhaps you are right: looking here and here it seems that on the square doesn't mean what I thought it meant (which was something like "a corrupt or underhand conspiracy"). –  Brian Hooper Dec 2 '11 at 16:04
    
@Brian: To be on the square sounds like pre-war American slang to me, that you'd only hear in movies about prohibition gangsters. Mitch is right that builders, etc., might square sth up, but in the UK at least, square up [to] is also often used to mean "draw yourself up and get ready for a fight" (both literally and figuratively). –  FumbleFingers Dec 2 '11 at 16:35

Fairly common IT parlance would be to say, "Let's not escalate the issue just yet."

I commonly hear the phrase escalate the issue used in one of two ways:

  • Giving a problem or complaint a higher priority
  • Involving someone higher up the org chart in the discussion

The second sense sounds like it may be what you're after.

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