Most of us spend quite a bit of time around our boss. The things we say – whether directly to him or her or to a coworker (within earshot of our boss) can have a profound effect on how much our boss respects us.
In many ways, perception is reality. There are certain phrases that are hot buttons with many bosses that will instantly destroy your boss’s respect for you.
Here are six things that will make your boss lose respect for you, and what to say instead.
These six things will make your boss lose respect for you
Always saying yes (or no). Most bosses respect honesty over just blindly saying yes or no to each and every request. If your boss asks you to complete an impossible task in two days, accepting the task and failing to meet expectations is not how respect is built.
Sometimes, project schedules are already set in stone and we cannot change them. But, consider respectfully expressing your concerns, offering insight, or proposing another solution whenever it makes sense rather than always answering yes or no.
Consider this: “Sure, I can do that. But, can we discuss delaying Task A another week so I can take care of this?” Or, “It usually takes me about a week to complete that task. Can I ask John to help me so I can get it done in three days?”
“I don’t know how to do that”. There may be times when you don’t immediately know how to complete a task. But, resourcefulness is a part of being a professional. Instead of saying “I don’t know”, offer to figure it out. Try: “I’ve never done something like this before, but I’ll get with Sally and ask a few questions and do some Googling and figure it out.”
“I’m bored”. This line is a one-way street to nowhere. Admitting to your boss that you’re bored will indicate a lack of initiative, time-management, and basic judgment. Part of being a productive employee is looking for ways to contribute when you have a little downtime. Finding things to do means that you value your boss’s time by being proactive with your own.
Ask a coworker if they need help with one of their assignments. Or, tell your boss that you’ve completed all of your assignments and would like to talk about what’s next.
“It’s not my fault!” Sometimes, things that go wrong won’t be your fault, but bosses never like to hear their employees pass the buck. Claiming it’s not your fault could mean that you’re more interested in covering your butt than taking responsibility for what happened, and that’s a great way to lose respect from your boss.
Keep in mind that you do not necessarily need to admit fault (especially if it truly wasn’t your fault), but instead of uttering “It’s not my fault”, instead, offer solutions to fix the problem.
Here are a few better ways to say this:
- “I could have done this task better, and I will have it fixed by the end of the day.”
- “This was tough to prevent, but I will do [such-and-such] differently next time.”
- “I probably could have prevented this; it won’t happen again.”
“Sorry, I’m already pretty busy”. Everybody is busy. But, what separates average professionals from above-average professionals is the ability to get things done, especially when under pressure or when their plate is full.
Effective time management and prioritizing tasks based on importance or timeline can make busier times easier to manage. If you are maxed out when your boss asks you to take on another assignment, instead of saying no, consider asking your boss if you can re-prioritize your other tasks so you can focus on your new assignment.
Here is one way to address this: “I’d be happy to take on this task, but I won’t be able to focus on this other task as much. Is that okay?”
“That’s not a part of my job description”. Nothing will destroy respect more than refusing to do an assignment because you believe it’s outside of your job description. The more that we contribute to the office, the more valuable we will be.
Instead, try this: “I think Cameron usually does this job, so would it be okay if I ask him a few questions?”