Career Center Blog

March 21, 2013

7 things never to say to your boss


It's a no-brainer: Never allow your boss to think you dislike your work, or are incapable of doing your work.

So why do many statements frequently heard around the workplace do exactly that?

Here are seven of the most common. They may seem harmless. But read them from your boss's point of view and you'll see why it's smart to avoid them:

"A chimp could do this job!" You may be trying to convey that your work is easy because you're so brilliant. Unfortunately, your boss hears, "This job is stupid."

"That's not my job." Most bosses are simple souls who believe your job is to do the tasks that are asked of you. You can try explaining why a task is a bad idea (as in bad for the company). You can suggest how it might be better done by someone else. Or you can just do it. It's good karma.

"It's not my problem." A problem in the workplace is everybody's problem.

"It's not my fault." Human nature is weird. Saying that something is not our fault makes people suspect it is. Besides, the real issue here is that there's a problem in the workplace that needs to be fixed. See above.

"I can only do one thing at a time." This makes your boss think you aren't up to the job. If you're trying to be funny, please note that some sarcasm lightens the mood; some just ticks people off.

"I am way overqualified for this." Maybe you are. But this is the job you have. Also, complaining that the work is beneath you makes everyone, including the boss, think you are a jerk.

"It can't be done." Even if it can't, saying so makes you look incapable. So try playing detective. What's the goal here? Search for ways of reaching that goal. That's what bosses really want.

Next week: 7 things your boss should never say to you.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at

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Those advices work for techies, not for others works.

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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