Workplace No-Nos: 4 Things You Should Never Say To Your Boss

Published: Nov 28, 2013

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November 28, 2013

Stressed at work? Here are four things you should never say to your boss in the heat of the moment.

By Angela Rose for

A survey by The American Psychological Association (APA) revealed that work significantly impacts the stress levels of 62 percent of Americans. Fifty-two percent of workers consider their work environment to be more stressful than their home environment. And workplace stress can have a negative effect on an employee’s job performance as well as physical and mental health. In fact, a study conducted by the Families and Work Institute found that twenty-six percent of workers experience burnout due to stress.

These figures are not surprising. More companies are trying to keep up with customer demand using fewer employees. Many of those employees are scrambling to cover the duties that used to fall to multiple coworkers. This may mean longer hours and fewer days for vacations and it always means more stress. According to the APA survey, 61 percent of workers say their heavy workloads significantly impact their stress levels at work.

Higher stress levels may cause you to react to situations emotionally, or to behave in an otherwise less than professional manner. You may say things you later regret, even at the office. Unfortunately, there are certain statements which, when made to your boss, are almost always guaranteed to damage your career. Avoid saying the following things at all costs.

1. “I’m taking a vacation next week.” – If you’ve already cleared this time with your boss, and you’re just reminding him, great. However, if this is the first mention you’ve made of a vacation, you’re going to come across as unprofessional and inconsiderate. In almost all workplaces, you need to request vacation time and other time off through the proper channels –starting with your boss or supervisor.

2. “Oops.” – If you spill your coffee, saying “oops” is okay. If you lose a major account, double book an appointment or make another mistake that could impact the company’s bottom line, “oops” is not an appropriate response. Acknowledge your mistakes and apologize for them. Follow up with a proposed solution. And, whatever you do, don’t make the same mistake again.

3. “It’s not part of my job.” – Job descriptions are never comprehensive, and professionals who want to advance their careers never say no to the opportunity to learn something new. Refusing to take on a new duty makes you appear petty, unprofessional, disinterested in your career, and definitely not a “team” player. Make yourself more valuable to your employer, not less, by enthusiastically accepting whatever task your boss throws at you.

4. “Give me X or I’m going to quit.” – Threats stopped working about the time you left the elementary school playground, so put them back in the sandbox and walk away. No one (no one who is a professional anyway) wants to come across as an angry, petulant child at the office. Whether you’re requesting vacation time, a new desk chair or a raise, do so politely. Meet resistance with reason, not a temper tantrum, or the consequences could be worse than going to your room.

Most bosses understand the demands they are placing on their employees - or at least they want to. Keep this in mind and communicate diplomatically and politely about any issue that impacts your job performance. You’ll likely receive a diplomatic and polite response in return.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for

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