Posted on 18 February 2013.
Granted, there are numerous programs out there promoting the fact that there is no such thing as a dumb or stupid question. However, this statement is mostly applicable in educational settings and surely not the workplace. In spite of the fact that most people can say ridiculous things at times, if you consider yourself a professional and you want to be taken seriously by your manager, you will be doing yourself a huge favor by learning how to refrain from saying certain things to your boss. While the following list is not exhaustive, rest assured that it includes the top things an employee should never tell his manager.
1. This issue is not your problem
For starters, it is important to note that your manager already knows that the situation does not have anything to do with you. However, when he is mentioning it, that means that he needs the assistance of someone capable of assuming responsibility (partially or fully) over the matter. That someone is you! Therefore, giving an answer such as this is not your problem will leave him with the impression that you are simply unreliable and unwilling to assist with things outside your duty roster.
2. The designated task if not in your job description
Although a certain chore your boss may ask you to perform is not listed in your job description, work duties are usually not respected ad litteram. Refusing to resolve an issue simply because it is not your job suggests that you are not thinking out of the box. If you are commonly doing things such as browsing the net or chatting with your friends during work hours, both of which are not listed as your work responsibilities, I’m sure you can help your boss with something out of the ordinary as well.
3. The chore at hand is impossible
When a manager hears an employee say a certain task is impossible, he does not perceive it as “the level of difficulty is out of your league”, but rather that you are indifferent and/or unwilling to put in any effort to get things done. Not only is it not useful to mention this things, but it also reveals a lack of a proactive attitude, an element all bosses look for in their employees.
4. Your salary doesn’t match the difficulty of your job
While you can complain about your finances to one of your co-workers or friends, the truth is that you should never say this to your boss. First of all, whining about a poor pay is perceived as a bad attitude and can even indicate that you do not want to follow orders. In addition, once you mention it to your boss, you should be prepared for the standard retorts that nobody enjoys hearing, such as ” if you really hate it/are unsatisfied here, why don’t you quit?”.
Even if you don’t use words, certain expressions are sometimes enough to irritating the interlocutor. Face it, even you get annoyed when you ask somebody for help with a certain task and you get a sigh in return. The bottom line is that sighing is and always will be perceived as a passive aggressive response and rather frustrating gesture. Moreover, the ambiguity of sighing leaves the response open to interpretations.