What Not to Say to Your Boss (or How to Keep Your Job)

Reporter: Danner Evans l Videographer: Brian Whitesell

One thing this recession has taught us is that a job isn't just something you are handed. It's a hot commodity and something you have to work hard to keep.

With that in mind, maybe there are a few things you're saying to your boss that tells him or her a lot more about you and your work ethic than you'd like to reveal.

Follow these rules and you'll not only keep your job but you'll move ahead.

You know you shouldn't, but sometimes there is a momentary lapse of sanity when you say something you probably shouldn't to the boss.

We asked a few men and women out on the street about the most outrageous thing they ever said to a boss.

"I don't think I actually said it, but I chased him with a rake before."

You know you shouldn't , but sometimes there is a momentary lapse of sanity when you say something you probably shouldn't to the boss.

"I told two or three of them they were wrong. They didn't like that very much."

"I said, 'I don't want your job. I just want enough to pay my bills.'"

"We had to fill out a report for work and I didn't do it. I was late doing it so I said, 'The cat ate it.'"

Those may be worth a few laughs, but there are some things you may be saying every day that your boss never wants to hear. surveyed some bosses and came up with the list:

1. "I'm only doing this job for the money."

No boss wants to hear that your sole motivation for showing up is your paycheck. She may know that money is your motivation, and you may know she knows, but it's still better left unsaid.

2. "I'm broke/in debt/one step away from bankruptcy."

Your financial woes are not your boss's concern. Period.

3. "I'm going to quit after I (fill in the blank)."

No matter how noble your future plans are -- you may be saving to start your own business or go to grad school, for example -- it's usually best to keep those plans to yourself or to refer to them only vaguely. If your boss knows there is a definite end date to your employment, she may start to shop around for your replacement before you are ready to leave.

4. "I partied a little too hard last night."

Buck up and get through the day with some ibuprofen, extra under eye concealer and coffee. But don't share the sordid details of your night on the town with your boss. He's just as likely to react with (unspoken) disdain as sympathy.

5. "It's not my fault."

Are you a whiny 8-year-old or a take-charge professional? Assume responsibility and take steps to fix a problem that you did, in fact, create. And if you are being wrongly blamed for a problem, saying "let's get to the bottom of this" or "what can we do to make it right?" is much more effective than saying "it's not my fault."

6. "I'm bored/this job is boring."

Didn't your mother ever tell you that only boring people get bored? If you're constantly bored at work, ask for extra projects and be as specific as you can. And if you're busy but think your assigned tasks are less-than-stimulating, start strategizing about how you can get the job you want, either by pursuing a lateral transfer within your company or by looking for a new job elsewhere.

7. "My job is too easy."

Sure, you may think a monkey could do your job. But don't give your boss any ideas -- your company could probably pay a monkey less than it pays you.

8. "I can't work with so and so. I hate him."

Involving your boss in personality conflicts should always be your last resort. So unless you are being threatened, scapegoated, encouraged to participate in unethical behavior, or your colleague or customer is engaged in other egregious workplace conduct, try to work it out between yourselves first.

9. "I can't do that because of my other job."

In your boss's mind, a second job is not a valid excuse for why you can't stay late, work extra hours or finish a project on time. She may question your priorities, and rightly so.

10. "Oh my Gawd! How did you do this job before the Internet/texting/Skype?"

Although not a cardinal workplace sin, making your boss feel old will not score you any points.

11. Sigh. Grimace. Eye roll. Retching noises.

Actions can speak louder than words. A poker face and silence are golden when you're displeased with your boss.

12. "Do it yourself!"

No need for explanation. Just never say this. Ever.

13. "It's always been done this way."

You don't want to gain a reputation as an inflexible dinosaur, so keep an open mind about how you do your work. And if you're convinced that a new way of doing things is going to harm your company, present your case without using "because that's the way we've always done it" to support your position.

14. "Let me set you up with..."

Avoid the urge to play matchmaker for your single boss. The potential risk far outweighs any potential benefit. For that matter, any socializing with your boss (even something as simple as friending him on Facebook) can cause you to share too much information, so consider limiting social interactions entirely.

15. "Sorry, I must have drifted off."

C'mon, wake up! If you're caught with your eyes closed, feign deep concentration rather than admit you were dozing.

We took that list to area employers, the people who do the hiring and firing with the city of Lynchburg, Centra, Generations Solutions and Lynchburg College. Each found something on that list that really hit home.

Bonnie Svrcek, the deputy city manager in Lynchburg, pointed to this one:

"I particularly in this day and time like the "it's always been done this way." Because we all know the world has changed incredibly and to say something has always been done this way is just wrong thinking in my opinion."

Svrcek said adapting to change is invaluable.

"It's a whole new world out there in the work place," she said.

Scot McCarthy, director of HR at Centra, also sat down with ABC 13 News.

"I think one of these that really resonates with me is when a person says 'that's not my job."

McCarthy suggested that sort of attitude may land you on the chopping block.

"People are aware of the attitude that you bring," he said. "They can see it day in and day out."

Tulane Patterson, owner of Generations Solutions, revealed that he watches what employees do and say.

"Sometimes people will say something and it really reveals what is important to them."

Patterson says if all you talk about is sick time, benefits or money, that is very telling about your commitment to your company.

"My reaction would be, 'Be smarter than that,'" Patterson said. "Obviously when you work for someone you are in a relationship. You don't say stupid things to a wife and you don't say stupid things to your boss."

Simple enough, right? But it's not that easy. Let's face it -- not everyone has their dream job, and sometimes mustering some enthusiasm to make the copies can be tough.

Dr. Kenneth Garren worked a lot of not-so-glamorous jobs before he became president of Lynchburg College.

"You know working in a shoe store, working at the post office," Garren remembered.

But Garren said no matter what the job, he thought about it as a life experience, or some diversity, that would help him move up.

"I was told by a gentleman I worked for at one period in my life," Garren said. "He said, 'You always have to be careful of people who are looking for a position as opposed to people looking to do the job.' That's the most critical thing. People who really want to do the job."

Saying things like, "I partied too hard last night" to your boss doesn't help your case.

Now you know what NOT to say to the boss. How about getting that promotion or raise? We have advice for you straight from our "bosses" in our exclusive video to the right of the story.