Work Happy Now! is Karl Staib's blog about “maximizing your work happiness”. When Karl wrote about 6 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss, all I could think was “Karl, you've had some really bad bosses.” It doesn't need to be like that.
You can always talk to a good boss
See for yourself. Quotes from Karl's article are in italics.
Tip for job seekers: use the hypothetical situations below in job interviews to test if your new boss is someone with whom you can talk freely.
1) Dirty (swear) words
When your boss angers you to your core and makes you feel like screaming, you don’t respond with a rant that would make Paris Hilton blush.
Although name-calling is never a good idea in the workplace, it's important and even healthy for people to blow off steam from time to time and even at the boss when deserved. You'll appreciate your boss much more if you know it's ok to react that way instead of keeping your frustration pent up.
No boss wants to hear the word “no.” Instead you should respond with:
“Sure, but let me finish this because it’s really important and I’ll do it as soon as I’m done. When do you absolutely need it by?”
Your boss is the one who determines priorities. Convince that what you're doing is more urgent or else put it down and do what your boss is asking for.
Also, a good boss stays updated on what team members are doing. If they're asking you to change directions, it's usually because they've already determined that their request is more urgent. That shouldn't stop you from asking about the change since a good boss will never say “just do it because I said so”.
3) ‘This Makes No Sense'
“A boss likes to have a resourceful employee. If you absolutely aren’t able to problem solve on your own and need more information then it’s time to ask the boss for help.”
Everyone has moments where things don't click for some reason. That's ok and it's normal, and will even happen to your boss too. A good boss who knows and respects you will never assume that you've suddenly gone stupid. They'll dig to understand what's blocking you and then steer you in the right direction.
4) ‘I’m Too Busy'
“Never tell a boss that you are too busy, that’s like saying that you don’t care about the project that they want you to do.”
This is similar to #2.
Wanting to tell your boss that “I'm too busy” means that your understanding of priorities differs from your boss's. Just say so to your boss and discuss until choosing together the best order of attack in the new context.
5) ‘I Don’t Like It When You…'
Never come right out with “I don’t like it when you (insert dislike here)”
You should absolutely be willing to say this.
With a good boss, any uncomfortable situations are usually accidents. However, if an uncomfortable situation repeats itself, you need to find out why. Meet as soon as possible and have a frank, open discussion to understand what's wrong and make sure it stops right away. A quick chat would serve to confirm the accident or might prove that your “good” boss is actually a bad one.
6) “Why do I Have To…”
“An employee that questions every move can become really annoying.”
Again, this is about understanding priorities. Anyone who questions everything can be really annoying, employee OR boss. Worse- there are always reasons for the constant questioning and none of them are good.
If you find yourself in this situation, take it one step further and ask yourself why. Why aren't you getting all the information you need to do your job well? A boss doesn't necessarily need to justify tasks, but a good boss knows that respecting your opinion and giving you purpose will only help you do a better job. Otherwise, you may just want to ask what you're doing at that company.
If you liked this article, you'll enjoy How to Smell a Bad Boss in Just One Interview.