When the boss delivers bad news at work, you know what’s coming because of the first words out of his mouth. Steve Tobak, a writer for the business management site BNET.com, assembled a list of what he considers the top 10 phrases you never want to hear at work — because if you do, you’ll end up on the wrong end of it. “How you respond can make a big difference in whether people think of you as a consummate professional or a child throwing a tempter tantrum,” advises Tobak, who says he has either said or heard each of these phrases at work. The top 10 things you never want to hear at work:
1. We’ve got a crisis on our hands.
What do you mean “we”? It may not be your crisis, but that pronoun means you’re being dragged into it. The boss is counting on you to solve it.
2. There’s no easy way to say this.
This could mean you’re about to get fired, someone important to your project quit or you just lost your biggest customer.
3. Why don’t you take some time off?
Ouch. They don’t want you in the office? Now think! What did you do? Sexually harass an employee? Curse out loud at the CEO? Hit “reply all” to an embarrassing e-mail?
4. All your meetings have been canceled.
Unless you have a contagious skin rash, chances are you are now officially insignificant. It means no one wants to see you or wants your input and ideas.
5. Did you really just say that?
Many a celebrity and politician has experienced this (usually when the microphone was on and they didn’t know it), but if it happens to you, it could spell trouble on the job.
6. I accidentally deleted it. It’s gone.
Even if you weren’t the one who deleted it, you’re being told this for a reason. Chances are, it was your file that got zapped. You know, the one you were working on for three months. Hope you had a backup!
7. Do you really think your presentation went well?
That’s a subtle way of saying your presentation was horrible.
8. Can I have a word with you in private?
if your boss says this, take a deep breath and try not to panic.
9. Um…how long did it take you to do that?
No matter your answer, expect instructions to do it over again.
10. You’ve been served.
Whether it happens at work or not, this is never good.