There are instances when asking a question or blurting a comment, no matter how absurd it may seem to be, is acceptable or even commendable. However, this is not the case in your workplace— where tactlessness and thoughtlessness can cause you no less than your job or future career growth. Here are some of the things that you have to be very careful not to say to your boss, or you'll be sorry.
1) "It’s not my job."
Face the fact that it is not a perfect world out there, and your job is not confined to what is written in your job description. So do not ever tell you employer that it is not your job to make coffee or draft that report he’s asking you to do. You will sound very unconcerned and self-serving. This is exactly the kind of attitude that limits a person from opportunities that may lead to career advancement.
So no matter how inconvenient the request may be, show some initiative and sincerity to do it. As a member of a team, your job is to contribute to its success even if that entails helping another team member succeed. If it is really beyond your capacity, be articulate in refusing, or if your hands are too full of other assignments, politely ask which ones you should prioritize first. This will remind your superior of your current load and the need to set priorities and realistic targets.
2) "This isn’t fair."
Unfairness is a harsh everyday truth. It happens everywhere and can happen to anyone including you. When a colleague gets promoted and you don’t, telling your employer that it is not fair is not a good idea. Instead of whining about the successes of others, why not just do your job as productively as you can? If there’s a troublesome issue that has been concerning you or one that you simply want to raise to your boss, be proactive by building and documenting your case, and present a sound argument in a professional manner.
3) "I will try."
Saying “I will try” to your employer when he requests you to do something is a no-no. This implies the prospect of failure. It’s like a subtle way of saying that your boss should rather do it himself or herself just to make sure the work is delivered. Instead of saying you will try, express certainty that you will do the work. If there are things that you need to clarify with your employer to help you carry out the task effectively, do not hesitate to do so. It would be equally unwise to acknowledge the task without doing the necessary things to deliver the job properly.
4) "I cannot do that; it’s impossible."
Saying this conveys a hopeless and pessimistic outlook, and pessimism is never valued in the workplace. What employers recognize and reward is the “yes-man” or “can-do” attitude. Regardless of how difficult a task or project may be, you have to communicate what you can share or contribute in a situation. If you are faced with an extremely difficult task, express your gladness for being tasked to do it because it means your boss trusts you. Tell him or her that you will check it out and that you will get back to discuss what is possible and what is not. It is important to convey what you can readily do for the work. If you need the support of the entire team or another unit just to get the work done, inform your boss about it. It means you are exhausting every possible way to get the job done.
5) "But this is the way we always do things."
Do not be close-minded and obstinate. Do not get stuck with the usual way you do things. Show flexibility and openness instead. Effective leaders value problem-solving skills of their team members and the most successful business ventures are born out of innovative and creative thinking. Therefore, do not limit your approaches and be open to discussions.
6) "I am too busy right now."
Never tell your employer how busy you are. Even if your hands are indeed full with the mounting responsibilities given to you, devote some time for listening to your boss’ requests. You can politely tell him that you will get to it once you are done with the report he just marked urgent. The important thing is he did not get an impression that you are whining or complaining about the amount of workload that you have.
7) "No problem."
This has become a habitual expression when a person has thanked you for something you have done. But saying “no problem” is actually not the best way to respond. You are actually implying that there could have been a problem or trouble under other circumstances. The well-mannered way to acknowledge your boss’ appreciation is to say “you’re welcome.”
Apart from making the remarks stated above, mere gestures or expressions can also be detrimental to the work relationship you have with your employer. Sighing, for instance, especially when delivered in response to a range of requests or demands from your boss even it is done unconsciously, expresses your annoyance or irritation. It is very open to interpretation. No matter how hard you try to explain that you did not intend to sigh, you have already made a bad impression. Yes, you are tired and may be about to burst, but muster all the patience you have left. You just cannot afford to show that to your boss.
These are just some of the things that you should never tell your employer no matter how tough the situation may get. Don’t count on a raise or promotion if you possess the kind of attitude illustrated herein. These unnecessary statements may seem harmless, but they may eventually turn into a bad habit and can have serious implications on your ability to advance in your career. If you are in a situation where you are not sure about how to respond to statements, requests, or questions, pause for a while but always take the positive and open-minded route.
Felix Tarcomnicu is a career expert with more than 6 years of experience. He is the CEO and founder of RESUMEOK. There he writes resume templates and tips for job seekers.