•   Allison

I just received a promotion from Glassdoor for a webinar on the cultural trends of top places to work, and I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. As a marketing platform and resource for job seekers, the value of Glassdoor is undeniable. But articles like this one make me wonder what Glassdoor plans to accomplish as a media platform. And I’m left curious about who they are as a workplace, and how equipped they really are to be giving advice about culture. It wasn’t long ago that contributor Lillian Childress made me fall off my chair laughing with her “8 Things You Should Never Say To Your Boss.” If this is a reflection of the advice we have to look forward to in the webinar, then I’ll pass.

Let’s take a look at the list together. You can see Lillian’s thoughts in the article, and my thoughts following each one of her verbal “no-no’s.”


Glassdoor’s “8 Things You Should Never Say To Your Boss”

1.) “I had a CRAZY night last night”

I’m sorry, is this real advice? “And if you’re hungover, just say you’re sick. Don’t tell your boss the real reason.” Are we really encouraging people to lie to their managers? I think the real advice here is feel free to hit up “Dollar Beer Night” on Thursday, but remember you’ve got “People Rely on Me Day” on Friday.


2.) “Why did Kate get a promotion instead of me?”

You lost me, Lillian. I see a question, not a complaint. And I see a really good question. If you want more responsibility and aren’t being given it, you should absolutely find out why. First of all, you’ll show your manager that your career means something to you and that you want to do more with it. Secondly, you’ll gain insight as to how your manager makes decisions, where they place value, and you’ll be able to better navigate your own path to that promotion.


3.) “Why don’t you do it?”

I mean, has anyone ever actually said this?


4.) “So who did you vote for?”

I do tend to agree with this. But I think this one kind of goes without saying. It’s just that Lillian decided to say it.


5.) “Do I have to work with Larry?”

When I see this one, my first thought isn’t “Geez, what a difficult employee. How unprofessional to make their personal pet peeve or distaste for a co-worker my problem.” When I see this my first instinct is to ask myself, “What happened?” and “What can I do to help fix this issue in the team dynamic before it spreads?” Sure, that could mean more work for me. And uncomfortable work perhaps. But that’s my responsibility as a manager.


6.) “How do you know?”

I love this question. This means that not only did they ask one question, and listen to my response – they actually care enough to want to know how I arrived at that answer. They’re basically saying “teach me, teach me.” Again, I love it.


7.) “Have you considered therapy?”

OK, Lill. You’ve got a point here.


8.) “Want to go out for drinks this Friday night?”

Uh, yeah. Yeah, I do want to go out for drinks with you on Friday night. Most of us spend more time with our co-workers than we do with anyone else on the planet. So if after spending all week with me, my team still wants to be in my company and do something fun together, I’d take this as an enormous compliment. First round’s on me.

So, nothing personal Lillian, but we thought this one deserved a WestWord rewrite. Here it goes…


WestWord’s “8 Things You Should Never Say To Your Boss”

1.) “I Cannot Wait To Get Out Of Here.”

Ok, if you’ve got a flight to Bora Bora, tickets to a show, dinner plans with a new crush… we get it. But if this zinger is flying out of your mouth just because you’ve had a long day, please think about how it sounds. Saying “I can’t wait to get out of here” translates into at least one, if not all three of the following… 1) “I’m weak” 2) “I’m unhappy” 3) “I couldn’t care less about what I’m working on.” If I were to hear Sally, Daisy or Paige say this I think my heart would actually hurt. Because I want them to be strong and successful, happy, and feel fulfilled by their work.


2.) “I Have No Idea.”

You might as well wear a sign that says “I don’t give a hoot about being useful.” Replace this with “Hmmm, I’m going to look into that” or “I don’t actually know, but I’ll find out and get back to you.”


3.) “That’s So-And-So’s Job.” or “So-And-So Would Know.”

If you’re asked for help, but the most appropriate person to ask is… well, not you… don’t send your boss to hunt down that person. If Kevin is the person that can answer the question, then you relay the question to Kevin, get the answer and deliver it to your boss. There are dozens of perfectly polite ways to inform them that next time they can go to Kevin directly if they’d like to. For example, “I asked Kevin to look into this, and below are the numbers you’re looking for. I’ve copied Kevin here in case you’ve got any additional questions for him.”


4.) “This Is The Best I Can Do.”

If you get the impression that your work hasn’t met your manager’s expectations, then think of the upside to this. It means they have high expectations of you. That’s a good thing. If you haven’t built up the confidence in yourself yet, that’s ok. But you’ve got to work on it, and the best way to do that is to push yourself to be better every day with every task you’re handed. Replace this with, “I’d appreciate any and all feedback.”


5.) “Did You Hear About So-And-So?”

Bob Compton shares a similar opinion in his recent post on this topic, but I find gossip in the workplace to be one of the most unflattering habits a person can have. And it’s extremely telling about a person’s values. But it’s also extremely damaging to a workplace dynamic. Read more on why and how here.


6.) “That Sucks. Good Luck.”

Unless your boss has made it perfectly clear to you that he or she cannot accept your help with a large or overwhelming task at hand, don’t assume you can’t be helpful just because they haven’t asked. If they’ve opened up about a serious concern, a large project, or a problem they’re working through, ask them, “Is there anything I can do to help?” Even if the answer is “no,” your offer will not go unnoticed.


7.) “Whatever You Say. You’re The Boss.”

This might be the worst of the worst. But I guess we should be careful here. If you work for the type of manager that has no tolerance for questions and gets defensive the moment a new idea or perspective is presented… and you actually want to keep that job… then, by all means, feel free to use this one. Otherwise, ask why things are done the way they’re done in your business. And when you’re told why, then ask yourself if you agree with it. Your value as a team member only grows when you help your team to grow. And by asking questions you’re showing your manager that growth and development are important to you – both personally and as a member of the team.


8.) “I Just Want To Make Money.”

Hey, I get it. At one point early in my professional life, I had to buy myself a dozen bagels which I ate for breakfast lunch and dinner for the next four days because I was just that broke. But I loved my job. If you’re driven by money, that’s fine. And if you place the importance of your personal wealth or financial well-being above the opportunity to develop, or the quality of your work, or the well-being of your business, OK. But I challenge you to find a manager that hears that and says, “I want you on my team.”

About Author

Allison Benson O' Brien

Director of Communications at 14 West

“Ask “why?” when told “no.” Always learn something. And stand behind the ideas you believe in.”

My job allows me a lot of creative freedom. And that can be a lot of fun, but there’s also some self-inflicted pressure that comes along with the role. Fortunately my team includes a some brilliant people and a few clowns; so we not only get the job done – we laugh every day. And I think our work is stronger because of that. We take the positivity, the humor and the passion we have in our office and find a way to share it with the workplaces we support. Whether it’s through an event, a marketing piece, a partnership, a post… even a piece of swag. And it works.
My team and I have watched the companies we support go on to become recognized as top workplaces by their communities and local media. It feels good to know that this is in part due to our efforts.

What is your favorite company event of the year? Hands down… decorating day. We pull the holiday decorations out of the basement, get together after work with some pizza, wine and music, and decorate the gorgeous 19th Century mansion we work in. A dream for a Christmas geek like myself.

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