The nine dirty comments on-the-job


400-DONT-SAY-AT-WORKJobs search website talked with managers to compile a list of nine phrases bosses strongly dislike and what they would prefer to hear; cautioning that saying the wrong thing in the office can be both embarrassing and career damaging.

Even if you have already committed these mistakes at work, the survey suggests that you are better off changing your behavior now and allowing the passage of time to heal any wounds you may have caused.

The nine “dirty comments” are:

“I need a raise.” Talking about your financial problems and what you need due to rising costs, or a new expense, won’t cut it. A raise request should be supported by evidence of what you have achieved for the company. It’s also good to know what people with your responsibilities typically earn.

“That just isn’t possible.” Talk about what can be done — not what can’t. When you talk to your boss, think in terms of solving problems, not in terms of putting problems on someone’s plate.

“I can’t stand working with ____.” Complaining about a co-worker’s personality usually reflects more poorly on you than on the co-worker. Don’t make this kind of problem your boss’s problem. There are exceptions. Speak to management if the problem is serious. But if you do have to speak to human resources about a problem such as a colleague’s threatening, illegal or unethical behavior, keep your tone professional and the focus on work — not personal issues.

“I partied too hard last night — I’m so hung over!” Buck up and get through the day with some ibuprofen and coffee, but don’t share the sordid details of your night on the town with your boss. Even if you have a friendly relationship, the boss is just as likely to react with (unspoken) disdain as sympathy.

“But I emailed you about that last week.” Alerting your boss to a problem via email doesn’t absolve you of all responsibility for it. Keep tabs on all critical issues you know about.

“It’s not my fault.” Act like a professional, not a whiny 8-year-old, the website says. And if you are being wrongly blamed for a problem, saying “Let’s get to the bottom of this” or “What can we do to make it right?” is much more effective than saying “It’s not my fault.”

“I don’t know.” If your boss asks you a question you can’t answer, the correct response is “I’ll find out right away.”

“But we’ve always done it this way.” If a new boss wants to try something new, don’t be a workplace relic. If you have concerns, say, “I think for this to work, we will have to….” But don’t kill new ideas with negativity.

“Let me set you up with…” Avoid the urge to play matchmaker for your single boss. The potential risk far outweighs any potential benefit.


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