5 things your boss doesn’t want to hear you say

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Words and phrases are often used that are not helpful or progressive. We all use them – perhaps without really understand how they can be interpreted.

  1. “It’s not my fault”

    Even if it is true, this statement isn’t very helpful. Only the worst managers seek blame; instead they want to discover what can be done about a situation. And in my experience, people who say this are not entirely telling the truth! For this statement to be made, the person make it has to have have reason to consider it was their fault in the first place. This statement is avoidable, and should be. Rather, your statement must be about the issue, how it was caused, and what your view on the resolution is.

  2. “You have a problem”

    Like a red rag to a bull, this statement can be very inflammatory. Firstly, it’s up to a manager to decide if the situation is a problem, or not. But more importantly, this statement doesn’t appear as great team-play. ‘We have a problem” is better. “We have a problem, and here is what I think we should do about it” is even better.

  3. “Yes, but…”

    This doesn’t just wind up managers. A yes, but… is a lack of respect. Why say yes if you’re going to rain all over it? It’s much better to come out with a clearer, bolder statement such as “I don’t agree, because…”. If made respectfully, with the view of your manager clearly considered and specifically challenged, then it is helpful, even if it isn’t accepted.

  4. “Maybe.”

    What does maybe mean, other than to demonstrate indecision? Maybe is often used as an avoidance tactic against saying what you really want to say. It is immensely frustrating to be answered with a maybe, and it doesn’t result in progress. Maybe is different than laying out the possibilities and what will drive a decision. Much better to say “If …… then it will be a yes. If …… then it will be a no.” This is much clearer!

  5. “I haven’t got time to…”

    Not true. Not having enough time is rarely a good response, but stating that something can’t be done because there are higher priority objectives is. Your manager must be influential in setting priorities. This statement is like saying “I’ve made the decision on what’s important, and what you’re asking me isn’t important enough”. You probably don’t mean it that way, but that is a valid interpretation.

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