1. “So-and-so thinks you come on too strong, but I disagree.” Even though you appear to be supporting your boss, you’re really giving her a backhanded compliment while ratting out a coworker. You will not endear yourself to your boss (or your coworkers) this way. If she asks what “so-and-so” thinks, tell her you don’t know, even if you’ve picked up on the fact that they hate each other. Avoid getting involved at all costs.
2. “Hold on, Gucci is having a sale and there’s only one bag left.” Twenty-nine percent of workers shop online while at work. You probably won’t get sacked just for shopping (though, in this economy, you never know), but you should do so discreetly and be sure to show your boss that work comes first. Aside from demonstrating a lack of respect for your boss, this sentence shows that you’d rather shop than strive for a promotion. Not exactly management material.
3. “Get your own damn coffee!” If you’re tempted to utter this phrase more than once a week, then it probably means that you’re in desperate need of a new job (or at least a vacation). Take a deep breath and when you feel that you can talk to your boss calmly and rationally, mention your desire for more responsibility. Maybe your boss is willing to find a college intern to fetch coffee so you can take on meatier projects.
4. “Oh my gosh, you’re pregnant, aren’t you? If you don’t come back, can I have your office?” Even if she is pregnant, your boss may not be ready to go public. And if she’s not, then you’ve just called her fat. (Way to go.) Not to mention the fact that your attempts to displace her may seem a little pushy. Trust that if she has news to share with her team, she’ll share it when she’s ready. Rather than asking for her office, there are more subtle ways to show that you’re ready to be her successor (if she needs one).
5. “Man, I got totally wasted last night!” File this one under TMI. Though your company may pay for happy hour, it’s not an invitation to relive your sorority years. Getting drunk in front of coworkers is a major don’t, but if it does happen, then don’t brag about it the next day. Remember, your boss is not your BFF, your mother or your therapist.
-Susan Johnston for WORKS by NicoleWilliams
Nicole is the bestselling author of three books, the latest of which, Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success, has been optioned by Bruce Cohen, the producer behind the Academy Award winning films American Beauty and Milk. The company she founded, WORKS by Nicole Williams, is the go-to resource for career-minded young women and was named one of Forbes magazine’s Top 10 Career Websites for Women. You’ve seen her on TV—as a regular guest on Today, Good Morning America and CNN—and in print, where her advice has appeared on the pages of ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Marie Claire and the Wall Street Journal. Nicole’s career clothing picks are available at The Limited stores across the country and she is also the career contributor for Shape magazine, where she’ll continue to spread her sexy mix of dating tips turned career strategies to young women everywhere.
GIRL TALK TIME: Have you ever said something you’ve really regretted to your boss? What was it? What do you think of the top five?