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Career Advice

What Your Manager Really Means When They Say....

Posted by Amy Elisa Jackson

Last Updated June 26, 2017
|3 min read

It's no surprise that bosses can often have a language all their own. From shorthand in emails to cryptic sayings that infer one thing, but mean another, it can be tricky to comprehend what you manager is saying from day to day. And if you're like most employees, you simply want to do good work and deliver what the boss wants.

Instead of going another week trying to decipher what your manager is saying, we thought we'd pitch in with a handy guide. Crack the code to every one of your manager's phrases in no time. Here are TK things managers say, and what they really mean.

1. “When you get a chance, can you send that to me?”

Translation: "Send me the documents that I needed an hour ago, please." There is an underlying immediacy to this type of question. Don't miss the cues.

2. “That’s a good idea, but...”

In this instance, your manager has heard what you've said but doesn't think it's actually a good idea. He or she cannot shoot down your idea, so they try to pad their forthcoming remark with some positive reinforcement. They're trying to be kind, so kuddos to them.

3. “Can you take a look at these numbers?”

If your manager pokes his head out of his office and asks you this question, he doesn't mean that you should do it in a couple of hours, the subtext of that text is that you should review the data with a fine-tooth comb asap.

4. “I like how you’re thinking…”

This phrase is often said before a manager transitions into mentor mode. While you may be on the right track, your manager is letting you know that you need a bit more direction. Good thing is that she or he is willing to help you. Ak questions and seek guidance — now's your chance.

5. “Here's a friendly reminder...”

There's nothing friendly about this phrase in an email. It's a not-so subtle nudge that you've either missed a deadline or have waited too long to deliver on a project. Hop to it.

6. “How do you think that went?”

Your manager really wants your input, so be ready with concrete opinions and insights. Don't be caught off-guard by this one. Your manager is seeking out your input, and when this happens it's a prime opportunity to shine.

7. “Let’s talk offline”

This really means, “I don’t want to get into it right now, but I’ll share the details later in a smaller group." No, you're probably not in trouble. Your boss simply wants to discuss in private for reasons that may not be known to you right now.

8. “We should set some time to meet about that.”

Don't be offended, but whoever said this probably not serious about actually scheduling a meeting. If you want to actually meet, you're going to have to step up and set the meeting. Managers might say this because their plates are full or the request doesn't seem urgent. But if you're proactive, you can make happen.

9. “I’m working late tonight.”

Hint, hint. You should work late too.


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