Honesty is not always the best policy. At work, you have to be vigilant about what comes out of your mouth in front of your boss. A slightest slip can cost you your career. There are many obvious things that one shouldn’t say to their boss; however the key is to scrutinize every detail in your interaction with the boss. The best practice is to take pause and analyze what to say rather blurting out anything that can make you regret.

things never say boss


Apart from the obvious curses and insults there are other phrases or words you must never say to your boss.

Words you should Never Say to your Boss?

1. “No”:

You need to be cooperative at work as well as polite. At times it is indispensable for you to say ‘no’ to your boss; however it will be wrong if you have not phrased it well. The next time your boss is giving you an extra work on top of what is already on your plate, politely explain that you are already running other work and ask if the one the boss has added is urgent, and does he want you to work on it firstly.

2. “That is not a part of my job”:

Exclaiming that some work doesn’t come under your job description is unacceptable as no job description has ever been engraved on stone. At work you are expected to be flexible with tasks to help your boss with easier management. When you show less drive to go beyond what is expected of you, it demonstrates your lack of drive to achieve something for the success of the company.

3. “I cannot”:

An employee with a ‘can-do’ attitude is always appreciated and valued. When you say “I cannot”, it shows your lack of willingness or certainty to take chances. Both of which will not allow you to be noticed by the management.

4. “I don’t know”:

Rather saying that you do not know something and shrugging, it is best to present your best guess or promise to discover the answer. You never want to walk down the path where your boss is completing the work for you.

5. “That is not what I heard”:

It is best to avoid assumptions or gossip as it may rebound. If you are unsure about something do not say anything or you risk looking unprofessional.

6. “I’ll try”:

This perhaps is considered as a tolerable response, since all of us ‘try’ to complete a work with the best of our skills. However your boss counts on you when he hands you a task with particular deadline set and when you answer with ‘I’ll try’ he may be left sensing uncertainty.

7. “I am sorry, but…”:

This actually conceals any genuine repentant feelings. A direct response like, “I am sorry but I will do more research on it the next time”, is a response that is anticipated when you make an error.

8. “What is my benefit from this?”:

At work, you sometimes have to help others or the other departments. Bosses cannot tolerate employees who are not team players. You have to think about the welfare of the group and not just self.

9. “I assumed that…”:

When use this phrase your boss is definitely going to be frustrated. You could rather admit you made a mistake and learned from it. It is a career killer when you defend yourself from the blame.

10. “Well I did my best”:

It reduces your standard of ability when you made an error but do not make an excuse that you did your best. Next time something like that happens, make sure you say that you will make everything right.

11. “I may leave”:

The most awful thing to do at workplace is to threaten the company that you will leave. It is not just unprofessional but they will believe you are a flight risk.

12. “I tried it before”:

Bosses are never going to tolerate sluggishness in the workplace. You need to atleast give another option a chance before putting it off. Perhaps your boss has some option in his or her mind. Rather say that you have tried something and acquired a particular result but you will be pleased to try something operative the boss has to suggest.

13. “The former boss did it another way/better”:

As the new boss holds the position, he believes that his practices or methods are preferred more than their forerunners. Unless a technique is an obvious mistake, never challenge your boss with the old system of getting things done, just because those methods used to make everything simpler for you.

14. “At my previous job we did it this way”:

Nobody likes a ‘know-it-all’, particularly a boss. You need to step in delicately if you believe that you have a better way. You never should speak phrases that will turn confrontational but respond with enquiring questions.

15. “It is not my fault, it is XYZ’s fault”:

Blame game can be dangerous for your career. If in a situation, it is not your fault, then explain the reason why you are innocent. Never involve others when the basic responsibility of a task was yours. If you are always seen pointing fingers at others, your boss will lose his trust from you and begin wondering who the culprit is really.

16. “XYZ is a fool”:

Your boss counts on you to follow the golden rule. However often attacking others reputation is going to buy you back no respect or value. It will reflect you have a bad attitude towards others.

17. “I cannot work with him/her”:

As pointed before, boss requires every employee to work with cooperation. You need to work under joint efforts for the welfare of the company and thus work mutually with others. You are assumed to be capable of being beyond personality conflicts with the concern of delivering the best results.

18. “I am bored”:

Perhaps you are going through a drained situation but sharing your boredom with your boss is absolutely wrong. It is your responsibility to make things interesting at work as you are being paid to remain productive and passionate towards work.

19. “Why does XYZ always…?”:

Your boss will start to dislike you if you frequently whine. It is very irritating. If you have any objection it will be better to enquire how you can get a particular privilege and spare the others from the conversation.

20. “I want to speak to the HR about this”:

Or saying that you wish to speak to the boss’s senior about something is actually like challenging the authority and is a no-win situation. Unless you have no alternative and are going to quit or be terminated, never say this. It is better to not notify or threaten in advance if you are going to HR and it is better not to choose this path unless you have used up all alternatives with your boss.

21. “I am quite busy, can’t it wait?”:

It is your responsibility to make sure if the priorities have changed by asking it to your boss. Yours and boss’s objectives have to be aligned. In most cases it is better to ask if you should take up another work as priorities usually are never inactive.

22. “I don’t have a solution”:

It is unprofessional to discuss about problems with your boss without offering possible solutions for it. Leaders are the ones who talk about solutions whereas followers talk about problems. You need to realize your objective.

23. “Why does XYZ has something that I don’t?”:

You must focus on your own career rather than on others promotions or pay. If you are witnessing an obvious partiality, you may go for a professional discussion with all consideration to the facts.

24. “Since there is no urgency, can I leave early today?”:

It is one thing to ask for early departure when you have a reason for it and it is a totally different thing when you say you are leaving because you have nothing to do or as things are slow. This is the time where you need to show initiative to the boss to take up another project or some assignment if you have nothing or less on your plate.

25. “That is so impossible”:

Saying something like this reflects your lack of conviction or negativity. Your boss is surely not going to be impressed with this rather it would be better if you mention your concerns and ask for their input.

The best way is to put yourself in their shoes to ensure whether you should share something to your boss or not. Ask yourself before uttering anything, that does the question or comment reflect an upbeat, positive and confident character? Always remember the saying, ‘loose lips sink ships’. Thus pick your words vigilantly when you feel the urge to protest if you wish to flourish in your career.