5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss

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Having a pleasant relationship with your boss is central to keeping your job — most bosses won’t put up with laziness, incompetence, or rudeness. Still, while inconsistencies or lack of skills may prevent you from getting a raise, certain statements may actually get you fired, or at least in big trouble.

Since you are a subordinate, you have to show a certain level of respect. Some people have a very friendly relationship with their boss that even includes teasing or swapping stories, but most bosses have a limit, after which they won’t look kindly on something you said. The line can be particularly difficult to determine if you do have a close relationship: You might think you are just joking around, but suddenly your boss is furious. Whether you’re constantly scared of your boss or you feel like old pals, there are several things you should always avoid saying.

1. Never threaten to find another job

If you genuinely have the kind of relationship with your boss in which you can talk about almost anything and you feel like you are friends, you might be able to put feelers out to determine whether you could indicate that you are looking for another job. However, this isn’t highly recommended. Some bosses understand that a particular employee is overqualified or ready to move on from a certain position. Especially if you want to move up in the same company, you can probably talk to your boss about this at an appropriate time.

However, you should never threaten to leave your company in anger or as a negotiation tactic. If you really want to negotiate a raise, wait until you actually have an offer from another company. Threatening to leave will only add to your chances of getting fired.

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2. Never pretend to quit

Going along with point one, you should never joke about quitting. It is never funny to say, “I quit,” even when joking about a particularly hard client or big project. If your boss knows you are kidding, it still won’t look good for you. Just joking about your job makes you look like you don’t take your work seriously.

One extreme example of pretend quitting is actually saying you quit because you can’t control your emotions, and then realizing that you let your anger get out of control and didn’t watch your words. Even if you backtrack your way back into your job, your drama will be noted. If you really do want to quit, be respectful about it and do it in the right way. Try not to quit in the middle of a big project, give as much notice as you can, and finish your last days well. If you do this, you will have a much better chance of having an ex-boss who is willing to vouch for your hard work.

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3. Never swear at work

This one seems pretty obvious, but many people swear at work (51 percent). You may think that swearing once in a while is building rapport with your co-workers and possibly even your boss, but they probably think otherwise. According to a Harris Interactive survey, 64 percent of employers said they would think less of an employee who used curse words regularly, and 57 percent said that someone who swears in the office would be less likely to advance.

According to the survey, people living in certain cities are more likely to swear at work. Sixty-two percent of people in Washington, D.C., 60 percent in Denver, and 58 percent in Chicago, covering workers ages 35 to 44, are the most likely to swear. Wherever you live, you should try to avoid swearing too often, especially in front of your boss. And certainly avoid swearing directly at your boss.

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4. Never say anything discriminatory

This should be another obvious category of statements to avoid, but most people have heard or experienced a statement related to racism, ageism, sexism, sexual orientation, or something pertaining to someone’s disability (according to one survey, one in five working Americans feel they have faced discrimination). Not only are these statements extremely offensive to the people they are being said to, they also upset co-workers, and your boss probably won’t stand for you saying any of them to anyone. Although these comments are often said in a joking manner, they are still extremely inappropriate. There should never be a reason that you need to say something derogatory.

In addition to angering your boss and co-workers, you might be written up for discrimination, or worse. If you honestly believe that another co-worker has been given a raise unfairly or you have a legitimate complaint, find a way to voice it without using race, sexual orientation, age, gender, or any other discriminatory reason.

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5. Never say anything that shows you have a bad attitude

Although this category might seem much less serious than the others, consistently displaying a bad attitude can cost you your job. Regardless of whether something is part of your job description, if your boss asks you to do it, you should try to do so without complaint. In addition, avoid complaining in general, and never blame your boss or your company for anything. You also should never tell your boss something can’t be done; if he or she gave you a project, they obviously think it is possible. If you need help, ask for it, but don’t complain or make excuses.

Your boss won’t care if you think the company is irresponsible or worthless; keep your opinions to yourself. Don’t tell your boss that a different co-worker should be doing the project, and don’t get upset if your boss occasionally gives a project to a co-worker that you think should be yours. Lastly, don’t refuse to do something because you haven’t gotten a raise, or regularly use the excuse that you already worked too many hours.

There are many other things you should avoid saying to your boss. Don’t share information that is too private or ask inappropriate questions. Don’t badmouth your co-workers. Never tell your boss you will do something if you aren’t planning to, and finally, be confident. Don’t avoid voicing your opinion when asked.

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