25 things you should never say to your boss

Honesty is the best policy in the workplace — but like any rule, this one has a few exceptions. There’s a certain amount of common sense you should apply when at work. Saying the right thing can get you places. Saying the wrong thing can get you sacked!

Aside from the obvious — like profanity and insults — here are the words and phrases you should never utter to your boss:

‘You’re wrong’


It’s fine if they are wrong. It’s fine to dispute things with them. It’s fine to address that you think they’re wrong. Openly critising them? Yeah, not smart!

‘I can’t’

A “can-do” attitude is always a valued trait. “I can’t” shows both a lack of confidence and unwillingness to take chances — neither of which will endear you to management.

‘That’s not part of my job’


Job descriptions are pretty flexible and constantly change. Within reason, if your boss asks you to do something it’s best just to do it. Unless it’s cleaning the toilet or something like that (assuming you’re not a cleaner!).

‘I don’t know’

You can’t be expected to know it all. Your boss probably doesn’t either. Might just be best to try and work something out rather than point blank saying you don’t know.



Obviously you can say no to your boss at time. “Can I punch you in the face?” is definitely a ‘No’ answer. But it’s more when your gaffer asks you to do something. Probably better to give an explanation than a straight ‘no’.

‘I’ll try’

Some people think that this is an acceptable response, as we all “try” to get things done to our best ability. But it leaves a manager feeling unsure, and when assignments are given, your boss is counting on you, usually with specific deadlines.

‘That’s not what I heard’

Just sounds like you’re gossiping. And no one likes a gossip. Capiche?

‘How do I benefit from this?’

Seems like you think it’s pointless. Be a team player, go ‘ed!

‘I’m sorry, but …’

Don’t make excuses!

‘Well, I did my best’

This is a cop-out. If you made a mistake, and that was your best, that doesn’t speak highly of your abilities.

‘I’ll leave’

If you threaten this then don’t be surprised if your boss laughs and waves as you walk out the door!

‘I just assumed that …’

One should never assume!

‘At my last job we did it this way’

No manager likes a know-it-all, so you must tread lightly if you think you have a better way.

‘It’s really not my fault; it’s John’s fault’


Ah, the blame game. The office’s old friend. It’s not cool. If you’ve dropped a massive one, it’s best that you just admit it, deal with it, and move on!

‘[Your predecessor] did this differently/better’

Your new boss will have their own methods of working. They don’t want to hear about how your old boss did things, does things, ‘better’ – it doesn’t really show you’re buying into your new boss’ ideas!

‘I can’t work with him/her’

Lol, are you a child?! You’re getting paid. Do it!

‘He/She’s a [insert bitchy remark]’

Bitching to your boss makes you look bad. It makes you look petty. If you have concerns about someone you work with, go about it a different way!

‘I’m bored’

A big no no. Your boss may question your suitability to the role and want rid. Or, give a load more work!

‘Can I speak with your boss about this?’ Or ‘I want to speak with HR about this’

“Going over your boss’ head challenges authority — a usually no-win situation, unless you’re about to quit (or be terminated) and have no other recourse,” says Taylor.

If you’re going to HR, don’t threaten in advance, she says.

‘I’ve gotta tell you about last night’s hook-up!’

You can be mates with your boss, that’s fine. What’s not fine, in a professional capacity, is discussing your one night stand at work. Save it for the pub.

‘Why does Jim have this and I don’t?’

Aww, are you jealous? Child.

‘I’m pretty busy. Can it wait?’

Priorities, sunshine! Your boss sets the priorities so if they ask for something it’s better that you do it than not!

‘That’s impossible’

Your manager doesn’t want to hear negativity or a lack of conviction. If you have concerns, tell them what they are, and ask for input.

‘I’m going to be out these days.’ Or ‘I’m leaving early tomorrow’


You don’t have a rite of passage to have time off when you want. Whilst you do have holidays to use, always ask first. Your boss will be sound with it, but don’t take liberties.

‘Can I leave early today since things are slow?’

It’s fine if you have to leave early. But don’t say it’s because “things are slow” or you have “nothing to do.” Things can always be found, waterboy!

At The Sheffield College we offer courses for just about everyone to get you qualified for that interview! So whether you’re interested in something ‘hands-on’ such as an Apprenticeship or Vocational course, academic A-Levels or University course, or even just a hobby course, take a look through our list of courses and we’re pretty sure you’ll find something that suits! Click here for more info.



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