There are certain things all bosses dread to hear. “I lost the account,” “There’s a big mistake,” and “I think the building is on fire,” would all qualify, but I’m talking about sentences that may seem innocuous to you, but can be a big deal to your boss.
Consider each of these sentences — and how you can turn them around to stay on your boss’ good side.
- “Are you sure you want to do that…?”
You don’t want to come across as teaching your boss something he or she already knows. Tread carefully when schooling your boss on anything. If you feel you have to say something, approach the topic with the assumption that your boss may have overlooked or forgotten something — not that he doesn’t know how to do his job.
- “Did you see what so-and-so just did? She is just so hard to work with!”
Save the interpersonal drama for your friends and family members, because your boss doesn’t want to hear about it. He certainly doesn’t want you to be a tattle-tale, and he doesn’t want to know about how much you dislike your coworkers. Unless someone you work with has made a major violation of company policy, or a big mistake in their work, keep your personal grievances, well, personal.
- “I didn’t want to bother you in case the problem worked itself out…”
Chances are, if you’re saying this sentence, something has gone horribly wrong, and your boss didn’t see it coming, because you didn’t give her the heads up. Most bosses would much rather know about potential problems before they happen than get blind-sided and have to play catch up. When alerting your boss to a potential problem, be sure to include what you’re doing to prevent it.
- “If you don’t do this, I’m going to quit!”
Ultimatums are a bad idea in pretty much every situation, but especially when it comes to talking to your boss. Are you sure you’re as irreplaceable as you think you are? Besides the fact that it comes off sounding juvenile, it might make your boss choose the nuclear option and decide you’re not worth the alternative. It’s fine to draw a line in your mind — if you need to quit, you need to quit — but don’t threaten.
- “As a Millennial…” or “People in my generation…”
Yes, he gets it: you’re younger than he is. But chances are, your boss doesn’t want to be reminded of his age — or yours. Unless you’re specifically asked your opinion as a younger person, don’t bring up your age or generation. If you’re suggesting a change, couch it in terms of how it will benefit the company, not just the Millennials.
- “That can’t be done.”
If your boss wants something to be done, she doesn’t want to hear that it can’t be done. Plus, saying that something can’t be done is an easy way out. Instead, focus on what you can do to make it happen — research, experimentation, brainstorming new ideas, and so on.
- “I need a raise.”
To be clear, you should absolutely ask for a pay rise when you feel you deserve one, but be careful how you phrase your request. Nearly everyone would like more money, so instead of saying you “need” one, start by outlining your value to the company, your accomplishments, and responsibilities. Your goal should be making your boss want to give you a raise!
These are some of my pet peeves, but I bet you have your own. What sentences would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.