Skip to main content

5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss

5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss

5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss

By Catherine Conlan
Monster Contributing Writer
 
Even if you work in a casual environment and have a warm relationship with your manager, there are some things you should never say to your boss, career experts say. Find ways to express yourself differently if you’re in these situations.

“I don’t know.”

If your boss is asking you a question, it’s because they don’t know the answer and want you to help, says Allyson Rees, co-founder of The Politesse, a careers and etiquette website. “Switch to ‘I don't know, but I'll find out,’ and then follow through on that promise,” Rees says.


Any Google-able question.
 
There’s no such thing as a dumb question, but there are definitely questions you can answer yourself. Asking your boss makes you look helpless. “For example, how do I change my email signature? What is the best route to the seminar? Do you remember the name of so-and-so's assistant?” Rees says. “It's called doing your research, and it's the difference between a highly-efficient self-starter and an employee who will always waste your time.”

“That's not our priority.”

Never say this unless you are 100 percent, absolutely sure it is not a priority, says Charlie Rocco, vice president of Rocco & Associates Wealth Management. “If you get it wrong, it not only tells your boss you didn't get the job done, but also you don't know what the company priorities are.” You may be working on tasks in a different order than the boss would like.



“My day is light. Can I leave a few minutes early?”

Rocco describes this as a pet peeve. “How is your day light?” Rocco says. “Any good boss can fire off a list of (minimum) 10 things that need to get done at any given moment, and you have just shown that you cannot see the big picture.” Rocco says it’s better to say what you have to go do and ask to leave, without minimizing your work. “A good boss also understands life exists outside of work.”

“I can’t believe you did that.”

Bosses sometimes make bad decisions, but you need to be careful how you talk about it, says Lawrence Polsky, managing partner and executive team coach at PeopleNRG, a leadership consulting firm. “Don't criticize a decision after it is made,” Polsky says. “You can critique an idea before a decision is made, because your ideas can be used. Once a decision has been made, your critique will be seen as negativity.” At that point, Polsky says, you need to help implement the plan.
 
Janet Scarborough Civitelli of VocationVillage notes that this rule applies to social media, too. She recommends curbing comments such as:
 
     "I'm bored."
     "How many minutes until this work day is done?"
     "I have such a hangover/allergies/a cold, I can barely function but I'm
 here today, anyway."


     

"I've never had a boss as smart as I am."
 
“When you post things about your job where your boss can read it, it is almost the same thing as saying it directly,” she says.


Back to top