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7 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss

You may work in a relaxed environment, but that doesn’t mean you should throw professional etiquette out the window. [TWEET] Even in the most casual of atmospheres, a careless remark to a colleague or superior could undermine your professional brand or halt your career advancement.

Don’t let an offhand comment make or break your career. Carefully choose your words before speaking with your manager. Below are seven phrases you should avoid using at all costs when speaking with your boss.

“I feel like …”

Don’t propose a solution because you “feel” like it’s a good idea. Instead, confidently propose your solution or share your thoughts and back it up with evidence and data. When you use feelings to justify your actions, you're sending the signal that you aren't logical or that you lack critical-thinking skills.

“I don’t know but …”

Similar to the “I feel like” phrase, beginning a sentence with “I don’t know” before launching into a suggestion won’t give your colleagues much confidence in what you say next. If you’re not confident in your ideas, why should your boss feel any different?

“I’ll leave” or “If you don’t do this, I’ll quit”

Don’t make idle threats unless you’re seriously willing to walk away from a job. Still so, it’s in your best interest to avoid this type of language. It makes you look like a petulant child who will throw a tantrum if he doesn’t get what he wants. Needless to say, this isn’t the personal brand you want to project at the workplace.

“At my last job …”

While you may have been hired because of your previous experience and knowledge, no one wants to have every aspect of their work compared to what you experienced at your last place of employment. When you do this, it calls your loyalty for your new employer into question.  

“Can I speak to your boss about this?”

You may have the best idea in the world, but before you send an email to the head of your department, talk to your boss first. It’s in your best interest to go through the proper channels of communication at your organization, rather than skipping over your immediate manager and directly reaching out to his or her boss.

If you’re having trouble with your boss, set up a meeting to confront him or her about the issue. If you can’t make any headway toward a solution, then it’s time to speak to human resources.

“No” or “That’s impossible”

Even if your boss is asking for something that seems impossible, avoid the urge to blurt out “No” in response to his or her request. Managers want to hear about solutions, not problems. When you immediately shut down, you send the signal that you’re inflexible, unwilling to try, and lack problem-solving skills.

Instead, explain to your boss what you will need in order to meet this new demand. Provide options instead of excuses. For instance, “My team can complete the big project a week ahead of schedule if we put these other two side projects on hold and focus all our efforts here or if we eliminate a few of the requirements from the project. Which option works better for you, based upon your priorities?”

You can’t always give your boss everything he or she wants, but you can be creative and propose options.

“I need a raise”

Bosses hate this phrase, and with good reason. Just because you “need” a raise doesn’t explain to your manager why you deserve it. Instead of griping about your increased commuting costs or your desire to move out of your family’s home, discuss how you’ve provided value to the company and how your salary compares to the market rate. Enter this conversation with logical reasons for your desired raise or promotion; don’t try to appeal to his or her emotions.

In the end

Before you blurt out something you might regret, take a moment’s pause and reconsider what you’re trying to communicate to your boss, what you hope to achieve, and how you believe your boss will react. Keep this career advice in mind and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!