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15 Things Your Boss Wants You to Stop Saying

When speaking to your boss, you should always maintain a level of professionalism. Saying the wrong thing could really do some damage to your career.

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“No, I don’t have the time”

When your boss asks you to do something (as long as it doesn’t violate company policy, of course), there is no reason for you to ever answer with the word “no”. Even if you are super busy with other projects and you really feel that you don’t have adequate time to do it all, ask your boss to help you prioritize which task you should do first. That way you don’t look like an employee that has a “can’t-do attitude,” but rather, one with a “can-do attitude.”

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“It wasn’t my fault: It’s so-and-so’s fault.”

Playing the blame game is a treacherous road to go down, and it’s childish. If you are innocent, then explain to your boss why. You should never throw any of your coworkers under the bus, especially if you may be at fault. If your boss sees that you’re frequently pointing the finger, at some point they may wonder who really is to blame. Check out these 16 smart ways to get your boss to trust you.

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“I’m looking for a new job”

Of course employers know that at any given time, a person from their staff could be searching for new work, but there’s a big difference between your boss thinking you may be looking and knowing that you’re looking. In a perfect world, you should be able to let your boss know that you are actively seeking new work; however, most bosses will take this as a slap in the face. It’s better to give them your two weeks’ notice when you do find that new job.

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“I don’t know how to do that”

If your boss asks you to do something, and you’re not sure exactly how to do it, you definitely should not let on that you are clueless. Instead, ask her for direction on how to get started (i.e., is there a co-worker who can teach you? An online tutorial you could follow?). This shows that you’re ready and willing to learn, without admitting outright ignorance. Watch out for these clear signs that you can’t trust your boss.

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“I’m broke. I need a raise.”

It’s not that you should never ask your boss for a raise, but don’t go into salary negotiations talking about needing more money because of your financial woes. Your boss won’t be swayed. When you do ask for a raise, be armed with evidence of your achievements in the workplace and keep your personal life out of the equation.

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“The old boss didn’t do it this way”

You wouldn’t want to be compared to an ex-coworker in your new position, and your new boss most likely feels the same. Also, your boss may think that you are stuck in your ways, that you don’t adapt well to change, and that you aren’t flexible. This may lead to you being cut out of new projects or assignments because it appears that you can’t handle change. Make sure you know which 10 seemingly “innocent” things could totally get you fired.

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“It’s slow. I’m leaving early today.”

If you need to leave early for a doctor’s appointment, that’s one thing. But you should never ask your boss to leave early because you don’t have anything to do. Bosses like it when their employees show initiative, so if there’s a lull in your day, you should find out what new projects are on the horizon.

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“I’m bored”

You are being paid to be productive at work, as well as remain enthusiastic, and it’s not your boss’s responsibility to find a way to make your job more interesting. Instead of saying “I’m bored,” volunteer to spearhead a new and interesting project or ask your boss for more responsibilities.

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“I’m so hungover”

If you have become close with your boss and have developed a friendly relationship, it may seem fine to you to tell them about all the fun you had last night…but it’s not. If this is happening frequently and you’re coming in five minutes late here and ten minutes late there, your boss may start to question if your partying has something to do with the lateness. At the end of the day, you must remind yourself this is the person who makes the decisions about you receiving raises, promotions, and bonuses. Here are 13 things HR won’t ever tell you about keeping your job.

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“My kids are giving me a hard time”

Chances are, your boss isn’t going to be particularly emotionally invested in your kids’ tantrums. Or your recent breakup, or your infuriating dinner with your in-laws. As a general rule, your home life and your work life should stay separate. Not only are these details a little on the personal side to be sharing with your work superiors, but your boss might see it as you making excuses for not getting your work done. Of course, if you’re dealing with a major change, like a seriously ill family member, you’re well within your rights to request the time you need. But your boss shouldn’t know about every going-on of your home life. Don’t forget that your boss may well be dealing with stressful situations outside of work, too.

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“I was only ten minutes late”

Late is late! That’s ten minutes you could’ve been working, so your boss probably won’t care that it was “only ten minutes.” If your boss brings your tardiness up to you, owning up to it will come across far better than trying to make excuses. Be aware of these signs your boss secretly doesn’t like you.

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“Please don’t make me work with so-and-so”

Sure, everyone has a coworker that gets on their nerves a bit. But unless this person is creating a genuinely uncomfortable or hostile work environment for you, your boss should not be hearing about your gripes with Ken in accounting. Bad-mouthing coworkers comes across as petty and unprofessional. If you’re having trouble getting along with someone, try working it out with that person rather than blabbing behind their back. Don’t miss these 50 secrets your boss won’t tell you (but you need to know).

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“What day of the week is Fourth of July this year?”

Any question that you can find the answer to by typing into Google, flipping through information you received on your first day of work, or even just putting on your thinking cap should not be posed to your boss. Don’t waste their time with questions that they specifically don’t need to answer. If you ask basic questions like these, your boss might think you’re lazy—or worse, if the question is directly work-related, that you weren’t paying attention in training.

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“Do you check our Internet history?”

This one’s a no-brainer. Talk about a great way to clue your boss in that you’re using your work computer for non-work-related, and potentially firing-worthy, things. And, that being said, it’s probably best to avoid actions that would make it necessary for you to even ask this question. Here are some more things you should never, ever say at work.

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“That’s not in my job description”

To your boss, this makes you sound picky and unwilling to take on any new tasks. Jobs evolve and change, and if your boss assigns you a project that seems a little outside your comfort zone, that’s most likely because they trust you to do it. Respond with “that’s not part of my job,” though, and your boss will probably look elsewhere for the next exciting new project or opportunity. And, of course, avoid the even worse offender: “I don’t get paid enough to do that.” That just sounds snooty. The potential exception, though, is if you actually think your boss made a mistake in assigning you a project that you think would be much better suited to someone else. In that case, feel free to bring it up, in a respectful, professional way. Next, learn the secret signs you might be about to get fired.