10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss


We've all been there. The pressure of a stressful workday makes us say something we instantly regret. Or, we get a bit too comfortable in the break room and share a salacious detail about our personal lives. No matter what professional level you've achieved, it's important to remember that words can make or break a career — especially when those words are directed at a superior. So, in the interest of taming that wild tongue, here are 10 things you should never say to your boss.

1. "That's Not My Job"

Every job description is fluid. Trying to enforce roles and responsibilities achieves only one thing: It demonstrates to management that you're inflexible and uncooperative. When the moment calls for it, pitch in and help get the job done.

2. Any Question You Can Answer Via Google

Today's technology puts the world at our fingertips, and with it, the answer to nearly any question that might come up. Avoid bothering your boss with general how-to inquiries that you can solve with some initiative and an Internet connection.

3. "That's Impossible"

In your boss' mind, the talented group of people he or she has assembled can make anything possible. Have concerns about a particular project or due date? Share them, ask for direction, and request additional help. Shutting down the conversation with "that's impossible" only conveys that you're the primary roadblock.

4. "I'll Quit"

Threats never go over well in the workplace. You'll either end up without a job or develop a reputation for being a loose cannon — and then you might as well quit. Find more constructive ways to express your ideas, manage your workload, or improve processes where you work. (See also: 6 Questions to Ask Before You Quit Your Job)

5. "I Wish I Had Your Job"

While it's natural to envy your boss at times, this phrase implies two very negative things: First, it suggests that your boss has it easy — that compared to the daily struggles of the staff, management's job is a cakewalk. Second, it implies that you view career advancement as cut-throat competition instead of a mutually-beneficial arrangement between mentor and protégé.

6. "I Refuse to Work With That Person"

Being able to get along with different personality types is a skill that should have been locked down in grammar school. Your boss rightfully assumes that staff can rise above petty conflicts and work together to get the job done.

7. "I Don't Know How"

On its own, this phrase communicates passivity (a condition far worse than incompetence). While it's admirable to be honest and direct, make sure you follow up these four words with a proactive "but I'll find out right now."

8. "I Have to Tell You About My Wild Weekend!"

In our increasingly casual culture, over-sharing is an epidemic. Even if you have a friendly and semi-social relationship with your boss, err on the side of discretion when it comes to personal matters. Sure, you may have closed down the bar on Friday night and it took you forever to remember where you parked your car the next day. Scrapbook those fond memories, but don't relive them with your boss. (See also: 10 Personal Issues No One at Work Needs to Hear)

9. "It'll Just Have to Wait"

In most work environments, priorities are constantly in flux. If an urgent issue lands on your desk, ask your boss to clarify what's top priority and be flexible enough to change course without one drop of drama.

10. "Things Really Need to Be Better Managed Around Here"

It's no surprise that this comment would make any boss hot under the collar. The implication, of course, is that a change needs to be made and you just might be the person to lead a back-office revolt. Remember, mutineers only win management spots in the movies.

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