Scolding from female boss

Career Advice

The Absolute Worst Thing You Can Say to Your Boss

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

March 21, 2018

There are things you probably shouldn’t tell your boss. You know — like the fact that you were late to work, again, because you kept slamming the snooze button. Or that you’re actively looking for another job because you simply can’t stand the people you work with. These are unspoken truths that can fly under the radar and don’t need to be voiced. Most of the time, they’re pretty innocent or aren’t creating a big issue. Again, these are just the things you simply shouldn’t tell anybody.

And then there are the things you probably shouldn’t say to your boss. An opinion about his or her breath, for example. That’s just rude and meanspirited and won’t serve any purpose other than getting on their bad side.

But once again, we’re swinging back to the things you shouldn’t tell. The ideas or concepts that you shouldn’t translate. When your boss asks you to complete task X, for example, you don’t want to say “shove it.” That’s obvious, though.

There is one thing, however, that no boss ever wants to hear. It’s hidden, rooted deep within that “shove it.” It’s not so much that you want to insult them, it’s that you just don’t want to do your job. We’ll get into it, and explain exactly what your boss doesn’t want to hear.


If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

First, let’s retread for a second. It’s always important, especially in and around the workplace, to remember the golden rule: Treat others how you want to be treated. And an offshoot of that? If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Okay — at some point, you’re going to have to be unpleasant at work, there’s no getting around it. But it gets us back to what we already discussed. You don’t want to be meanspirited for the sake of being meanspirited. You can get your shots in, but pick your battles.

But the one thing no boss ever wants to hear? That’s next.

But the Worst Thing You Can Say…

It’s this, in some shape or form: “I don’t want to even try.”

You can see it above. A boss, manager, coach or anyone else doesn’t want to hear that you refuse. That you refuse to do your job, or that you refuse to try anything new. You’ve probably, at some point, been asked to do something that wasn’t your responsibility. At the very least, your manager wanted you to give it a shot. But if you pull the “that’s not in my job description” card? It’s not going to sit well. Soon, your manager is thinking to themselves that if you won’t put forth the effort, then maybe they’ll find someone who will.

Also, when it comes time for raises and promotions, guess who’s probably going to get left out?

What About What You Don’t Say?

Silence is golden. Right?

In addition to running your mouth, you’ve probably given your boss or coworkers the silent treatment. You know the silent treatment — you do what you’re asked or acknowledge what’s happening around you, but you do so without any sort of verbal cues or confirmation. The boss asks you to take out the trash, so you do it. But you don’t say a word. While you might think this is a safer route than mouthing off, it can also blow up in your face as people can typically read what you’re doing and find it more offensive than saying something out of line.

Most of the Time, Words Are Just Words

Everybody says things they don’t mean.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: You’re going to run your mouth at some point. A lot of managers will recognize it for what it is, which is blowing off steam. Bosses know that you don’t necessarily want to go out of your way to do more work for the same wage. They know you don’t want to do dirty, even dangerous jobs or tasks. They also know, most of the time, who’s slacking and who’s willing to step up when their name is called. If you’re dependable, you can probably get away with some brash talk here and there — but you’ll want to know, first, how thick the ice is beneath your feet.

Actions Speak Louder

Really want to get the boss’s attention? Act.

Another age-old saying: Actions speak louder than words. If you’re really unhappy with your boss or feel that you aren’t getting enough respect at work, do something about it. Talk to your manager face-to-face and see if you can hash out your differences. Or, if you’ve really had your fill? Go out and find another job. That’s not always so easy, however. The point is to be mindful of what your actions are saying even if your mouth is shut.

Conflict Is Unavoidable

At some point, you’ll disagree or need to stand your ground with your boss. Just be smart about it.

Another thing you’ll need to keep in mind? You’re going to get into some sort of conflict with your superior at some point. It’s unavoidable. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a good working relationship, but you do need to be careful when approaching these situations. The key, as we’ve discussed, is not to tell them that you don’t care, won’t try or refuse to comply with their orders. You need to play the long game; explain your issue and see if there’s a compromise. Again, don’t tell them that you refuse to even try.

Engage in Smart Interactions

The key takeaway? Think before you speak.

Bosses and managers come in all shapes and sizes, and what sets one off will go completely unnoticed by another. Know your adversary, or in this case, the man or woman you’re dealing with. If you’re frustrated, take a deep breath and talk to your boss like a human being. Don’t curse under your breath or hurl an insult — that has obvious results. But you also want to shy away from saying or otherwise transmitting that you won’t even try. That, above all else, is the last thing they want to hear.

This article was originally published on The Cheat Sheet. It is reprinted with permission.

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