10 Phrases Your Boss Never Wants To Hear

Regardless of the relationship you may think you have with your boss, maintaining a sense of professionalism at all times is always necessary. Knowing what you can and cannot say is critical for your success. Just because you and your boss have a great relationship doesn’t mean that you can say what you feel. Take caution when you are discussing things of serious matters. The following is a list of 10 phrases that your boss never wants to hear. In the instance that you have to express the following ideas, we have also listed a better way of saying it:

1. “This is not in my job description.”

Occasionally your boss may ask you to do duties that aren’t specifically listed in your job description. This could be because your team is temporarily short-staffed or simply because he/she needs it done immediately.  Either way, the task needs to be done and your boss needs you. By using the fact that the task isn’t in your job description as an excuse, your boss will view you as not acting like a team player.

Better way of saying it: “Because I lack expertise in this area, I don’t know if I would be the most effective person.”

2. “I don’t have time for this, get someone else to do it.”

Passing on work is never a good idea. Even if your workload is heavy, refusing to complete a duty that was tasked to you can demonstrate to your boss that you cannot manage your time well or you are not a proficient worker, hence allowing your boss to question your productivity.

Better way of saying it: “I apologize for being backed up on my work. Is it possible to have someone else do it on my behalf?”

3. “I didn’t know I couldn’t do that.”

Overstepping your authority is dangerous territory. Not only does this demonstrate bad judgment, it also displays a lack of understanding towards your limitations, authority and responsibility. Your boss will likely interpret this action as a sign that you need to be watched more closely.

Better way of saying it: “I apologize for overstepping my boundaries, but I can assure you that it won’t happen again.”

4. “I think I am overqualified for this.”

Your experience or resume may demonstrate the fact that you can handle important projects, great responsibilities and big decisions. However, until your job title matches this, you are still responsible for the duties that are tasked to you. Your boss doesn’t want to hear how amazing you think you are, he/she wants to hear that you will get the work done, regardless of how petty or elementary it is.

Better way of saying it: “I don’t think that my time would be best utilized doing this, do you agree?”

5. “I assumed the company would pay for it.”

Having the company card is a big responsibility. Clearly, it should only be used for products/services that are approved by the company before the purchase is made. Furthermore, making a purchase with your own funds and assuming the company will reimburse you is a bad assumption as well. Your boss will not only question your judgment but he/she will also question how much responsibility you can handle and whether or not you can be trusted.

Better way of saying it: “I accidentally charged this to the company, but I will repay it immediately and I am extremely sorry.”

6. “I was just joking with her, I thought she knew that.”

Sexual harassment is never a joking matter. In no instance should you ever say, do or express any ideas, statements or actions that another colleague can misinterpret as sexual harassment. Not only can you be fired, but you can also face legal judgments against you. Your boss will have no tolerance for this.

Better way of saying it: (none)

7. “I don’t get paid enough to do this.”

Sometimes we have to step up and do things that require more effort than we are used to. If your boss asks you to do something, it is often better to just do it rather than turning it into an argument. Using your salary as a reference for what you should and shouldn’t do is not something your boss wants to hear.

Better way of saying it: “I don’t mind doing this, but I do think that I should receive additional compensation if I have to do this in the future.”

8. “The last manager didn’t make us do things like this.”

Comparing the way that your company “used to do things” and the way that your boss now wants to do them can be a touchy subject. Avoid it altogether. If your boss wanted to do things the way that your company did before, he/she would ask advice from those who would know. If he/she doesn’t ask, it is because they don’t want to know. By making a statement about the way that they used to do things, you are somewhat doubting or questioning the new strategy, which bosses don’t appreciate.

Better way of saying it: “We didn’t do this in the past, but I see why you are going with this approach.”

9. “If I were in charge, I would do things differently.”

Your opinion of the best way to do things may deviate from what your boss thinks. You should not consider mentioning this because you are not in charge. It goes towards the saying, “If I wanted your opinion, I would ask.” Your boss most likely doesn’t want to know how you would do things, and if he/she does want to know, they will ask. You must accept the fact that you are not the boss yet and the decision is not yours yet.

Better way of saying it: “I have a different idea of how we could do some things, would you be interested in hearing them?”

10. “I didn’t think you would find out.”

Trying to get away with something that you were not supposed to do is not a good thing. Admitting that you were hiding it is an even worse idea. This will lead your boss to question their ability to trust you and could put your job in jeopardy. Be more cautious in making decisions and avoid doing anything that endangers your job security.

Better way of saying it: (none)

We know that every boss is different and sets a different standard of professionalism and expectation. Finding this standard is key to success. Be conscious of what you are discussing, how you are saying it and what you really mean. One bad word or phrase can damage the way your boss views you and can affect your job status. Be careful and cognitive of how you are communicating with your boss, as well as all other colleagues in your workplace.