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Your Boss Is Not Your Friend

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Ever get the urge just to tell off your boss? Say everything that you think of them before storming off and slamming their door so hard that it falls off of its hinges? Well, that’s an excellent plan. And maybe one day you will be able to put that plan into action. But until that day, it is best to be on the best of terms with your boss. As such, there are a few things that you should never catch yourself saying to your boss.

“That isn’t my job.”

This is something that should never come through your lips when your boss is around because, the fact of the matter is, whatever your boss tells you to do is your job. Not only should you do something, even if it is not in your purview, but doing such things as are outside of your area gives yourself some always-needed brownie points with your boss. So, if you’re asked to do something outside of your wheelhouse, don’t push back. Rather, accept the task with open arms and a positive attitude. It will be appreciated by your boss, even if they don’t say anything.

“You didn’t say that.”

Never. I repeat, never tell your boss they didn’t say something that they said they, in fact, did say (did that make any sense?). Anyway, the moral of the story is do not contradict your boss. Do not tell them that they erred or, even worse, that they lied. Telling a boss they didn’t say something is exactly the same thing as saying they lied, only it sounds more polite. So, unless you have documented proof that your boss said or did not say something, keep your denunciations to yourself. By the way, even if you have the proof, it is best to weigh the pros and cons of moving forward with your complaint. Is it more trouble than it is worth? It very well might be. Maybe just keep it to yourself.

“It’s not my fault.”

Then whose fault is it? Your boss’s? You can’t very well say that. Unless you have excellent proof that your coworker — in some Machiavellian trick — is trying to undermine you and ruin your life, then chances are, in some way or another, it is your fault. Very few answers can qualify as an excuse for why this or that isn’t on time. It is your job after all. You are paid for it. Better to apologize, and offer to do the task again or to simply bow your head and take your verbal scolding without trying to interject or protest your “punishment.”

“It’s not fair.”

This is a big one. The truth is that nothing is fair. Fair is a social human construct that is completely made up. Fair doesn’t exist in the cosmos. There’s no such thing as it being unfair that the gazelle gets eaten by the lions. It just is. The sooner that you learn this lesson, the better off you will be. So don’t mouth off to your boss about things not being fair. Other than looking silly and naive, you look weak by invoking some ridiculous notion of “fair.” A large lesson to learn if you are going to survive: Fair is not a thing.


When starting out or, in fact, for all employees, there is a certain etiquette that must be acquired and adhered to. This remains true with coworkers and especially true with your bosses. There are things you can say and things that you cannot say. All bosses differ, of course. But to play it safe, be polite, eager and hard-working. Leave out the complaints and misgivings. Save those for your therapy sessions where you can vent all you like without your boss hearing.

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