Tina Fey wants you to know what ‘chipple’ means—because it makes complaining so much less stressful


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Photo: Getty Images/Angela Weiss - contributor

We’ve all been guilty of an “I love them, but” type of ramble at some point. It’s the kind you reserve for the need to assert that you’re a good person despite the complaint you’re about to share. To accomplish this, you list out a number of positive attributes about the subject of your vent. It’s a common practice, but wow, is it time consuming. Ever wondered how to complain kindly and, more importantly, concisely? You’re in luck, because Conan O’Brien invented a word to expedite your preamble: chipple.

What is chipple, you ask? In a recent episode of O’Brien’s podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, guest Tina Fey professed her love for it, calling it, “a super, super useful word in any workplace,” she says. According to O’Brien, the word was born thanks to his friend Robert Smigel, former Saturday Night Live writer and voice of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog who’s known for his uncompromising work ethic. He was often complained about for various reasons, and staffers would try to soften their blows with professions of “how we all love Robert, and he’s a comic genius and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Eventually, O’Brien decided to speed up the process.

Chipple takes the place of the long and exhaustive “I love them, but” prelude to a complaint; it cuts to the chase.

“I would always say, ‘Do we have to do the whole preamble? Because it takes time, and we all do it,'” O’Brien says. “So I said ‘Let’s not do that.'” And that’s how the word chipple was born. It takes the place of the long and exhaustive “I love them, but” prelude to a complaint; it cuts to the chase; it reaffirms that the complainer sees the value in the subject of complaint; and it ensures nothing is mistakenly taken personally. Well, not super personally, at least. Using chipple can revolutionize how to complain about your kindhearted but emotionally exhausting friend, or to deliver some necessary constructive criticism to a colleague.

So, how can you best use chipple in the wild? Let’s say Cathy in marketing always comes to work with a positive attitude, she wrote you a thoughtful email reply last week, and you hear she volunteers at a soup kitchen—but she keeps interrupting you during meetings. If you’re venting to your work wife, try this: “You know Cathy? Chipple, but if she doesn’t stop interrupting me, I’m going to karate chop her “Live Laugh Love” sign to pieces.” Or, you could confront her directly with something like, “Cathy, chipple, but I really need you to not cut me off when I’m speaking.”

Chipple. It’s going to make office life that much happier…or at least give you back some precious minutes in your day.

If you’re clear on how to complain but could use some advice on the other end of things, here’s how to set healthy boundaries with a constantly complaining friend. Or subscribe to a complaint cleanse.

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