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I searched over the Internet, but I am unable to find a satisfactory answer to this. I am not a native English speaker, but in my work I use English a lot. In fact, in all the office meetings I attend, half of the conversation happens in English. Now some of these meetings are somewhat informal (for example, it is acceptable to crack a joke), although serious stuff is discussed there. Also, some junior and some senior people are also involved in meetings (approximate age range is 30 to 60).

It so happens that on a particular issue, I have a completely opposite opinion, and I say it firmly each time the issue comes up. Just to set the stage before such argument, I feel like saying something along the lines "Now, as always let me say this although you may feel that I am a complete jerk". I am one of the junior people in my office, and although I feel that using the word jerk would set a good stage, I am not sure if it simply means a foolish/eccentric person in a normal conversation or whether it is a slang word.

So my question is, would it be okay for a junior person to use the work "jerk" to refer to myself before I firmly put forth my argument before others in a meeting about a serious topic? If not, what would be a better replacement?

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    Among native speakers, to self-proclaim to be a jerk in a half-joking way, is fine. But never use that title with your supervisor, you'd be considered rude and arrogant.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 7:21
  • @Mari-LouA : What is a replacement?
    – Peaceful
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 7:34
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    In an informal meeting, to refer yourself as a "jerk" is acceptable, it's a way to admit you did something wrong, or made a mistake. If you want to tell your supervisor they made a bad call then that is what I would say but it depends on our relationship with them. It depends. Don't use "jerk" with an American (or British) speaker unless you are friends with them.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 7:37
  • @Mari-LouA: No I don't want to say that I am wrong. I just want to make others know that I am aware that they are probably getting annoyed by my stand although I am right about the issue.
    – Peaceful
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 7:39
  • The context will make it clear that you recognise that for some colleagues your conviction/stubbornness will be interpreted in a negative light.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 7:41

1 Answer 1

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Jerk as a pejorative term is American English, and is not commonly used in the UK, although it is generally understood there, from movies etc.

I certainly wouldn't use it in a business context. (Does it originate from 'jerk off?' eek!) It is slang, and not really polite.

You can be self-deprecating using more formal language like:

  • You may think me foolish for saying this, but...
  • I may be an idiot for saying this, but...
  • Forgive me for asking, but...

How about announcing your opposing point of view, thus:

  • I realise my point of view may be unconventional...
  • I know some of you may not agree with me, but...
  • I realise I'm being off the wall here...

However, if you're a junior, and other points of view differ, then to avoid alienating yourself, it might be worth asking questions instead, that cause people to consider your point of view.

For example:

  • Have you considered the budget implications of that?
  • What if it slips down the slope?
  • How do you think users in Asia would react to that?
  • If we did it A,B,C way, would it be cheaper and easier?
  • Are you concerned about how the coolant would react, if we do it that way?

Note the use of 'we', which owns the problem collectively and creates rapport rather than alienation.

Consider your angle, carefully craft your questions beforehand. Then slip them in and become known as 'the kid that asks really good questions'. Rather than any kind of 'jerk'.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jerk

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