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14 things you must never tell your boss

July 18, 2016 09:22 IST

No matter how difficult the situation, complaining about work or colleagues won't help you much.

Here's a list of things you must avoid telling your boss at work. Illustration by Dominic Xavier/ 

Speaking to your boss in front of other people is like a public test.

Your professionalism and etiquette towards a senior are put to test in front of an audience that may include your clients, co-workers or other seniors.

All of these people have their eyes on you, and whether you like it or not, they are going to judge your behaviour based on what they see.

If you're someone who can't resist speaking your mind under any circumstances, it can sometimes be hard to identify what to say and what not to.

But whatever the scenario, make sure you avoid saying these to your boss publicly:

1. "That isn't possible"

It is important to speak to your boss regarding what can be achieved and met.

Never tell him/her that a target/goal cannot be done because it puts your inefficiency on display.

Repercussions can be that you might not be entrusted with crucial work later on in the organisation.

2. "I can't work with him/her"

It does not matter with whom you can or can't work with.

The only thing that matters to your boss is whether the work can be done.

Also, if you openly express to your boss whom you can't work with in front of others, it sends a grapevine through the organisation and people could perceive you as someone who is not very approachable.

3. "But I already told you about it"

Unfortunately, you are not in a position where you can 'alert' or 'remind' your boss that you have already told him/her something.

It can be rather rude with other people standing around you and also portrays the manager in a poor light.

Your boss is someone who usually has much more responsibilities than the others, and making a statement like this publicly is not only unfair, it's rude.

4. "It isn't my fault"

Playing the blame game in front of your colleagues or any other person won't get you too far in your professional life.

Own up and be accountable for anything you do. This sends a message of responsibility.

5. "We always do it this way"

Maybe you do, but an efficient and smart employee will take cues from their senior and find a better way to do it instead of complaining like a child about how it is different from the norm.

6. "You didn't tell me to do it"

Your boss isn't going to nag you like your mother did.

You'll have to wake up and get work done when you know you have to.

You mustn't arrive at a situation where anyone needs to tell you what to do. Also, saying this in front of others will only make them think that they all need to be 'told' what to do.

7. "That takes a lot of time"

It probably does, but you will have to do it anyway without complaining to your boss in front of others.

When you are working for someone and if you have to do what you've been told, just do it.

8. "It's difficult"

Again, this is complaining, and it won't take you very far. Saying this to your boss is one thing, but saying it in the presence of others makes it a lot worse.

You will be viewed as an incompetent employee. Instead, say "I will give my best to make it work."

9. "Let's agree to disagree"

You never agree to disagree unless you're on par with your boss, and that is, of course, not the case.

Whether it is said in a passive-aggressive tone or in a casual way, you are viewed as someone fuelling an argument with your boss, and this will not be taken lightly.

10. "That's not my responsibility"

It may not be, but when the boss has requested you to get a particular work done, it's always better to do it.

It's likely that your boss him/herself knows it's not your responsibility and is entrusting you with work. So don't fail to impress.

11. "I need a raise"

Never have salary negotiations with your boss in front of other people. You may be viewed as someone who is money-hungry rather than work-driven.

Approach the topic with considerable achievements in your hat and preferably without people around.

12. "In my last job, we did it this way"

Maybe you did, but things obviously work differently in your current workplace.

Referring to your last job makes you sound like you think that the present workplace isn't efficient enough.

13. "I'm busy"

You might be already busy with the work assigned to you, but if you want to make this heard, remind him/her about your present assignment and ask if it can wait. Or, simply ask which task is of utmost priority now.

14. "My shift is over"

There is nothing more disheartening to seniors than hearing employees expressing disinterest in putting in extra effort, unless s/he is absolutely overworked.

This could also discourage others from finishing their projects or not putting in all their worth.

So, be mindful of what you say.

Of course, some of the concerns raised here need to be addressed. But a good employee always addresses such concerns to their boss in private, and politely at that.

Doesn't this sound like a better approach?