We all have bad days at work. Sometimes it reflects on the things we say to our coworkers and superiors. What you say tells a lot about you as a professional and creates impressions that could hunt you for years.
Getting a pink slip because your boss didn’t like something you said is something that will probably not happen to you on the spot. However, one careless phrase may adversely affect your entire career, especially if it creates a long lasting impression of you. Subconsciously, your boss may pass you for a promotion or let you go during layoffs simply because of the impression they got years ago due to something you said in the past. People have good memory when it comes to impressions. Chances are, you boss wouldn’t even remember exactly what you said but they are sure to remember what they have thought of it!
The following are some of the things you can say that can put at risk your career:
1. “Why do I need to do this? This is stupid!”
Don’t ever say this to your boss! This questions their authority and their judgment about something that they believe has to be done. It belittles your boss and the entire enterprise. If your boss has asked you to do it, they must think it is important enough. By saying this you openly challenge their competency as a boss. Not a very smart move!
2. “That’s not in my job description”
The weaker players are the first ones to get pink slips. In this economy, companies keep employers who can wear many hats, even if it is not technically in their job description, and who don’t complain about it. If your boss thinks you are unwilling or incapable to do what you’ve been asked, you will be considered a weak player.
3. “It is not my fault”
Your boss doesn’t really care whose fault it is. Most of the time they just want the problem fixed. When you say it is not your fault, you sound as if you don’t want to fix the problem, or worse: that you are trying to cover up your mistake by pointing fingers at someone else. This behavior tells to your boss that you are not only unreliable, but that you can’t be trusted.
4. “This is not my problem”
If your boss has brought it up – it is your problem. Moreover, a problem at work is everyone’s problem. Saying this just shows that you don’t care and that you are not a very good team player. Ultimately, getting things done at is the manager’s responsibility and saying it is not your problem automatically turns it into your boss’ problem.
5. “I don’t know how to do it”
You may actually not know how to do something but it is all about how you say it. Saying “I just don’t know” shows a weakness and it also may be interpreted as an excuse that you just don’t want to do it. Tell your boss that you are prepared to do the task but that you may require assistance or guidance because you haven’t done it before. Ask them if they or someone else can provide it to you.
6. “I am overqualified for this”
Maybe you are, maybe you are not. However, you are at work and instead of playing a big shot, you should just roll up your sleeves and get the work done. Do it yourself or delegate it to someone else – but get it done! This is what your boss expects of you and anything less will show them that you are actually not qualified to get things done (kind of the opposite of the message you were trying to get across).
7. “It is impossible to do”
When you say this, it does not sound like it is actually impossible, it sounds like: “I don’t know how to do it” or “I don’t want to do it”. Either way, if someone else ends up doing this task and they manage to do it, what you said will make you look like an incompetent idiot. This could be an irreversible mistake so don’t say it unless you are ready to bet your professionalism on it.
8. “I don’t get paid enough to do this job”
With the current rate of unemployment, there are millions of people who don’t get paid at all. They will be glad to have your job. This is exactly what your boss will think of the situation. Enough said.
9. “I will try”
Your boss doesn’t want you to try it; they want you to do it. Trying is not an option, you either do it or you don’t. Saying “I will try” will tell your boss that they cannot depend on you. It will not give them the assurance they need that the task will be taken care of.
10. “I don’t have time for this”
Translates into “I don’t want to do this”. If you are over your capacity, just tell your boss that it may conflict with other work and talk to them about prioritizing tasks.
The bottom line: your boss wants to hear solutions. They don’t want to hear complaints or see you pass the puck. When you do too much of it, you make their life more difficult. Your boss still needs to get work done so they will either have to do it themselves or find someone else to do it. In which case, they don’t see much value in you and you are out!