I would like to pin it to my company's noticeboard.

I'll give an example scenario... at work today a colleague encountered a problem, and solved it quickly, but needed their manager to speak with a different team's manager to help avoid the problem in the future. However, rather than my colleague's manager quickly speaking with the appropriate team manager, he had a 30+ minute discussion with a different manager about the problem, which yielded no useful results.

I'd love a word or phrase, something to "brand" this type of scenario, so that I can politely and humorously warn people about the dangers of wasting time by unnecessarily chewing over simple problems that could be solved easily.

I thought about words like 'fusspot' (worrier, stickler, an anal person) but it's more the act that I want to describe. So I thought about 'time-wasting' but that's far too general. Thanks for any suggestions!

  • Hello, David. You need to flesh this out a little. For example, if you are looking for a single word then you need to add a sample sentence indicating where the word should go...and you need to show some research. Right now it is unclear and over broad. Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 21:46
  • 1
    Thanks for your advice, Cascabel, I've fleshed it out a bit now.
    – David
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 22:03
  • I added some tags, but did not put the SWR tag: it would only create problems --unless you have a clear sentence with the position of the SW indicated. In other words, you need to narrow it down according to the part of speech it plays. Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 23:31
  • I've always just referred to this as a "management meeting".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 0:20
  • Prevaricate as a verb, prevarication as a noun would seem to fit your scenario here. Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 4:26

5 Answers 5



to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done

Or bike-shedding:

Parkinson provides the example of a fictional committee whose job was to approve the plans for a nuclear power plant spending the majority of its time on discussions about relatively minor but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bike shed, while neglecting the proposed design of the plant itself, which is far more important and a far more difficult and complex task.


If the person failed to act because the discussion was just taking up time, to shilly-shally or dither might be useful.

In other words, the person was wasting time by being indecisive.

Cambridge Dictionary (for both terms):

Stop dithering and choose which one you want!

shilly-shally - to spend too much time doing something or making a decision because you do not know what is the right thing to do"

Stop shilly-shallying and make a decision now!

Colloquially, we say: Stop screwing around.

  • Looking up dither (I was curious if it was a BrE-only word) led me to vacillate which is also a good option.
    – user184130
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 15:53
  • You had never heard it in AmE?? Yes, vacillate. And somewhat related and over the top is: tergiversate.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 16:00
  • I had only heard it in a technical sense (eg a software method for adding noise to smooth out transitions)
    – user184130
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 20:07

beat (about/around) the bush TFD

To speak vaguely or euphemistically so as to avoid talking directly about an unpleasant or sensitive topic.


Consider filibuster. It comes from a parliamentary setting, but can easily be pressed into service for ‘management’ meetings.

A filibuster is a political procedure where one or more members of parliament or congress debate over a proposed piece of legislation so as to delay or entirely prevent a decision being made on the proposal. It is sometimes referred to as "talking a bill to death" or "talking out a bill" and is characterized as a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body. - Wikipedia


Conversational narcissism

This phrase addresses the tendency to shift the conversation away from the intended goal or target, and focus on topics that benefit oneself. The manager in your example could be exhibiting Conversational narcissism by speaking with people that are unnecessary to solving the problem.

Another way to think about it is


The act of deliberation is to discuss a matter at great length. That that length can imply 'care', the major concept is the slow speed at which the conversation moves. In government (like parliament), "deliberation" can imply a tactic, intentional or not, meaningful action.

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