No one wants a bad relationship with their boss. Not only do many professionals spend upwards of 40 to 50 hours a week with this individual, they are also often the stewards of a certain chapter of your career. Whether they control your upward mobility or stand between you and getting home at 6 p.m. everyday, being on the boss's good side is usually a good thing. While not everyone will like everyone, at the very least, being well-liked by your boss means having a solid reputation with them as someone they can rely on to turn out good work and be a solid professional.
Sometimes, our boss just isn't going to be on the same page as us. And sometimes that has nothing to do with how we impress on them. However, if you're using any of these four phrases, you may be accidentally ruining your reputation with your boss — and putting your good graces on the line.
1. "Well, that wasn't my fault."
No one likes to mess up at work. It's the worst. However, failing to take responsibility for a mistake — or worse, blaming someone else — isn't the way to go if you want a strong relationship with your manager. In many cases, seeking excuses for a misstep can make you look unaccountable, untrustworthy and even immature. If something truly wasn't your fault, use one of the phrases we've identified as a polite way to say "nope, not me." If something was your fault, taking responsibility can do a lot for your reputation. You can read more about the steps to take when you make a mistake at work in this article.
2. "That's not part of my job."
Telling your boss a task isn't in your job description is a surefire way to make your relationship rocky. While being up for the challenge can sometimes be the best way to handle an off-kilter task, it is OK to draw boundaries if you don't have the time, energy or expertise to take on a task. To learn how to say "no, I can't" in a delicate way, you can read our advice on how to say "that's not my job" without losing your job.
3. "Oh yeah, it's so hard to work with _______."
If your boss brings up that your colleague is presenting a roadblock or a delayed start time on a task or project, it can be tempting to chime in with a complaint about that person. However, gossiping about coworkers isn't just wholly unprofessional — it can also make you look untrustworthy or immature in the eyes of your manager. Even if your boss prompts a critical comment, it may be best to ask how you can help instead of making an evaluative statement about your colleague. Save the "hate bonding" for conversations about TV shows and traffic.
4. "I tried that and it didn't work" or "Well, we've always done it this way."
If your boss has an idea or solution to a problem and you respond with one of these skeptical and negative phrases, it's sure to leave a bad taste in their mouth. They're only human. While there may be practical reasons why an idea is not-so-great, rather than immediately shooting it down and citing previous work or tradition, open up the conversation by reassuring them of the merits of their idea. Then, say you'd like to present potential roadblocks and provide specific examples of why the idea may not work. If your skepticism really can just be chalked up to tradition, try to keep an open mind.