When you’re looking for a job, you spend a lot of time thinking about what to say. What to say on your resume, what to say during an interview and what to say when it’s time to follow up with an employer. Once you get the job, it’s just as important to make a point to know what not to say — especially when you’re speaking with your boss.
What not to say to your boss
It’s easy to become too familiar with your supervisor. When you work long hours, and it’s a collegial environment, your boss may seem like just another one of the team. Don’t forget that your supervisor isn’t a buddy or a friend; he or she is in charge of a big piece of your career while you are in this job. Everything you say can, and will, be used against you.
Here are 11 suggestions of what not to say to your boss, no matter how friendly you are.
I’m bored with my job. Maybe you are bored, but never tell anyone at work, especially not your boss. A better approach is to identify challenges you’d like to take on and suggest your boss let you take on additional responsibility. No one wants to know if you are bored at work, so keep it to yourself, or you may find yourself looking for a new job (https://www.keppiecareers.com/how-to-find-a-job-when-you-have-a-job).
Are we having fun yet? Don’t try to be cute or funny, especially if it’s a tense or uncomfortable time. Even if you know your boss well, you may find a statement like this falls flat, and can work against you later. If you want to win influence, keep on task and don’t say anything to suggest that there might be anything better to do.
It it closing time? Never give the impression that you’d rather be anywhere other than work. Even if your job isn’t exciting, when you’re at work, focus on it and don’t let on that you’re watching the clock like a hawk. You may find yourself without a job.
Anything followed by “but.” For example: “I’m a team player, but…” or “I don’t mean to complain, but…” That “but” effectively erases anything that comes before it. If you don’t mean to complain, there is no “but.” If you are a team player, don’t give your boss any reasons why you cannot. Think about how you present yourself. If you say something like this once, it’s likely you’ve said it many, many times. Cumulatively, it’s not making a good impression on your boss.
(Insert complaint here), and I’m not the only one who feels this way. Even if you really are speaking on behalf of a lot of people, you will rarely win when complaining to the boss as the presumed ring leader of the entire team. Do not appoint yourself the spokesperson for the team. Most likely, your boss will see you as the complainer who is trying to benefit from the fact that your colleagues are not complaining.
I’m so tired. No one cares how tired you are. Get some sleep outside of work, and if you’re tired at work, address it with a cup of coffee, take a quick walk outside, or steal a nap in your car during your lunch hour.
Did you hear the one about… Don’t joke, your jokes aren’t funny. Maybe your friends think you are a veritable stand-up comedian, but don’t make jokes around your boss. Humor is very personal, and it’s just as likely that your joke could offend your boss at the worst or make him or her a little uncomfortable at best.
You’re not going to believe what my husband/wife/significant other said or did. Keep your personal life out of the office. Most importantly, do not share the lurid details of what goes on at home with your boss.
I’m voting for…Just as your personal life doesn’t need to make its way to work banter, keep your political views to yourself. Even if you think your supervisor agrees with your opinions, discussing politics in an otherwise non-political workplace can only cause trouble.
Did you hear the latest? Gossip of any kind is not appropriate, especially when the boss is involved. Don’t share anything you’ve heard about co-workers, and stay above the fray whenever you can where gossip is concerned.
No, I can’t. While there may be many situations where you are not able to get a particular project done, it’s not wise to simply tell your boss “no” when presented with a challenge. An alternative may be to ask for time to think about the project and plan how to get it done. It’s reasonable to make a clear case for additional resources (including human resources) that you need to handle a particular task, but try to avoid saying “absolutely not” if you can help it.
photo by Black Country Museums