“It’s not my fault.”
Using the aforementioned situation, let’s say you missed the deadline on account of Jim holding up production. Your initial reaction would be to blame Jim. Bad move. When something goes wrong, don’t scramble to point the finger at other people. You have to take responsibility for your project, Cole says.
Granted, you don’t want to simply accept blame—you should also explain how you’re going to avoid repeating the mistake in the future.
Say instead: “I understand that this is an issue. Here’s what happened, and here’s how I’m going to prevent it from happening again.”
“But we’ve always done it this way.”
No one wants to work with someone that’s resistant to change. “Managers want employees who can adapt and find new ways of doing things more effectively,” says Scivicque.
Translation: When your boss asks you to do something differently, don’t get defensive—respond positively, Cole advises.
Say instead: “This sounds like a great idea. I’d love any recommendations you have on how to do this, since it’s different than how we’ve done it in the past.”
“That’s not part of my job.”
Nothing good can come from telling your boss you won’t do something because it’s not part of your job description. “It doesn’t matter what you were hired to do,” Wood says. “You should be willing to contribute in new ways.”
That being said, if your manager asks you to do something that would be a better fit for a co-worker based on your peer’s area of expertise, don’t be afraid to express that to your boss.
Say instead: “I’m happy to take care of that for you. This is something that Jon normally handles, though. Would you like me to delegate it to him, or would you like me to tackle it this time?”
“That’s above my pay grade.”
If your boss asks you to do something that you believe is outside the scope of your position, you should express your concern. The key, however, is to use a neutral tone.
Say instead: “I don’t think I have the authority to make that decision. Do you think ____ would be more appropriate to handle this task?”
“I have too much on my plate.”
Many people believe that declining a new project or assignment can be perceived as being lazy or underperforming, but you don’t want to become so overwhelmed that quality of your work suffers. Hence, it’s important to speak up if you’re feeling maxed out , but avoid whining to your boss.
Say instead: “Right now I don’t think I have the bandwidth to take on this new assignment, but if this is a priority, can you help me reorganize what I’m working on?” If possible, offer your manager a solution to how you can reduce your workload (e.g. “Our new account needs my attention this week. Can we delegate this assignment to Amanda, since she’s worked with this client in the past?”)