Never Say These 11 Things to Your Boss

never say to boss

Whether you and your boss are friends or just daytime acquaintances, there are some things you shouldn’t say to them in the workplace. Even if Kelly from Accounting was rude to you or you just broke up with your boyfriend, it’s important to remain professional, positive, and receptive at work.

Saying any of these 11 things to your boss can give you a reputation for laziness and prevent you from moving up in the ranks.

  1. “That’s impossible”

Problems (and solutions) might look very different from your cubicle than they do from your boss’ office. If you’re being asked to do something that you know won’t go well, then voicing your concerns is entirely appropriate. But using language that refuses to engage in a solution tells your boss that you’re not interested in problem solving.

2. “That’s not my job”

Responding to an ask with combative language shows your boss that you’re not willing to be flexible. Try and see these moments as opportunities to add more skills to your resume. 

If you’re being asked to do something new and challenging, then asking for clarification or support is perfectly reasonable. If you’re regularly asked to do something you find demeaning, like getting coffee for the office, then maybe it’s time to look for a new job.

3. “I don’t know”

You’re expected to be an expert at your role. If your boss asks you a question, responding with “I don’t know” is never a good idea—it makes you look lazy and inexperienced. If you really don’t know the answer to a question, give it your best guess and try to lead the conversation towards a discussion of the problem.

4. “I’ll try”

Your boss isn’t going to feel comfortable assigning tasks to you if they think you’re only going to “try” to get them done. They assign work to get it off their plate—let them know you’re the kind of person they can rely on.

5. “No”

There are a lot of reasons you might want to say no to a request from your boss. Maybe you’ve got too much on your plate, or the task is not in your job description, or you’re just in a bad mood. The thing is, your boss doesn’t know why you’re saying no. If you really can’t take something on, explain why.

6. “I’ve got a lot going on”

Never bring your personal life into your workplace. Everybody has difficulties outside of work, but most people don’t talk about them. If you really can’t deal with work today, use a sick day. The group’s productivity shouldn’t be put on hold because you just got dumped.

7. “What will you do for me?”

You and your boss are not on equal footing. Never try and bargain with your boss, even if you’re being asked to do something difficult. Responding positively (and gently reminding your boss of your work ethic during an annual review) will yield much better results.

8. “I can’t work with them”

You’re expected to be a team player at work, even if you work with people you can’t stand. Act like an adult and put personal differences aside in the workplace. Doing so will show management that you care more about the success of the team than your own self interest.

9. “I’m thinking about quitting”

What you probably meant to say is that you need help. If you’re taking on so much that you’re thinking about finding a less demanding job, ask for help, don’t threaten your boss with your resignation. Doing so is a great way to burn bridges and even get fired.

10. “I’m bored”

It’s not your boss’ job to make you happy. If you think you can take on more responsibility, take initiative and show them. 

11. “We do it this way”

In some cases, you may have been at the company longer than your boss. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. They were chosen for leadership for a reason, and your tenure doesn’t give you any authority over them. Respect the chain of command to avoid appearing insubordinate.

You only get one reputation in the workplace. Don’t let thoughtless comments lead to a reputation of self centeredness or laziness. Instead, be optimistic, engaged, and focused on the team to be successful at work.

How to Become a Leader

become a leader



There is no one answer to the question of how to become a better leader. Rather, it is by cultivating skills and developing a certain perspective and attitude that causes you to be seen as a leader by others.

In this short guide on how to be a great leader, you will learn top tips on developing a leadership mentality, the different leadership styles, some fantastic qualities and values to nurture and more.


What It Means to Be a Leader

Leaders are people with vision. Great leaders inspire others to join them as they head in the direction of that vision. They understand that it is the power of the collective and not the individual that causes massive change and achievement in the world.

Leadership isn’t about a specific position or title. Truly magnificent leaders are not driven by their ego, but by their belief in a better world. Therefore, they are not concerned with hierarchies and power struggles but instead are interested in lifting others up. Leaders encourage others to reach their full potential. They want to create more leaders, not just followers.

When you are in a leadership position, you have massive power, which comes with an equal amount of responsibility. It is up to you to create a positive environment and to motivate those around you to inspired action.


Leader vs Manager: Are They the Same?

The truth is, not all leaders are managers, and not all managers are leaders. Though both are in a position of power, a leader will be focused on the greater vision – or, big picture – while a manager is interested in executing the day-to-day in service of the vision.

That being said, it is possible to be a leader and a manager. If you are a manager tasked with a team of people to oversee on a daily basis, you can also inspire, uplift and motivate them in the direction of a grander vision. The very best managers are also great leaders.


6 Types of Leadership

While there are many ways to lead, these six basic leadership styles cover the most common ways leaders approach their work.


Autocratic leadership does not include the opinions of subordinates. Rather, the leader holds all the power and makes all the decisions on her own. Communication flows down from the top, but not from the bottom up. Expectations are usually high and there is little flexibility as to the rules or regulations set by the boss. Autocratic leadership is rarely used and is generally not effective in the long term.


This form of leadership is commonly preferred among businesses. Leaders exercising the Democratic style take into account the desires and opinions of all those involved in the company, business or endeavor. The leader makes the final call but may also empower others to spearhead projects and make decisions on a smaller level. Communication flows freely from the top down and the bottom up.


Transformational leaders promote reaching for the stars. They want to pull the most potential out of their team and the projects they are working on and do so by inspiring, motivating and providing plenty of opportunities for growth. Transformational leadership is exercised for the benefit of the collective whole and is just as focused on the self as it is on the group or company. Transformational leaders usually develop loyal, committed followers.


This form of leadership is focused on maintaining what has already been put in place. Not concerned with innovation, transactional leaders use an exchange process whereby followers receive instant rewards for carrying out directives. Transactional leaders make clear what is expected of those under them and provide well-defined instruction on how to successfully carry out said expectations.


With this type of leadership, the authority is handed over to the employees. Considered by many to be the least effective leadership style, little or no guidance, direction or interference is offered by leaders to help the company, organization or team to succeed.


This type of leadership can be utilized by anyone at any level. Focused on supplying new possibilities while maintaining a certain level of practicality, strategic leaders spend their time implementing habits for themselves and their team that stimulate consistent, positive growth over time. Strategic leadership is great for those looking to foster high-performance in their work and in their whole life.


Values of a Great Leader

These leadership values are integral to the success of your vision. Pay attention to which ones resonate with you, and which ones you feel you could spend more time developing.


Great leaders aren’t afraid of admitting when they’ve made a mistake. They know they are human, just like everyone else, and they take responsibility for their actions. Honesty with themselves and others leads to a strong foundation of trust within their company.


Once strong bonds are formed, they are hard to break. Develop authentic, trustworthy relationships among colleagues and clients and then stick by them through both rocky and smooth times. This will ensure that you are surrounded by people who are ready to take risks with you as you increase your visions and goals.


When you treat everyone you meet with respect, it will be returned to you. No matter the position of the person you are speaking to, speak to them with the same level of respect and compassion as you would anyone else. When people feel respected, they are much more likely to deepen their commitment to you and your cause.


When you place your focus outside of yourself on something bigger than you, you can no longer act from a place of ego. This does not go unnoticed by others and is very inspiring. Choose to devote yourself to a cause, project or business that you believe in, and go all the way. Your devotion will inspire others to follow you as you head in the direction of positive change.


Nothing big gets done without trust. It takes time to develop, and the only way to increase trust is by trusting. Give your team no reason not to trust you and return the favor by placing your trust in others. They will feel a sense of responsibility to rise to the level of belief you have in them.


Qualities of a Great Leader


You must believe in something and be willing to go all the way for it. Leaders of vision are also passionate. They invest in their vision and inspire others to do the same. Remember that when you are asking others to come along with you, often their only access point into the idea or concept you are promoting is your presentation of it. If you as the leader aren’t passionate about what you’re working towards, why would anyone else be?


The more you know how to do, the more valuable you are. Constantly be looking to try new things and increase the number of tools in your professional toolkit. Versatility also helps you to be more adaptable to the challenges that come your way, which will increase confidence and diminish fear.


Great things take their time to come to fruition. The bigger your goal, the more patience is going to be needed to achieve it. You will need to be able to wait for the right time to act. You must be willing to stay certain conversations or meetings until the setting allows them to be productive. Leadership involves strategy, timing and the ability to tolerate the sometimes-slow rate of growth without loss of enthusiasm.


Exceptional leaders do not abuse their position of power, nor do they think they are the most important person on a team. A strong sense of humility lets you more easily encourage others around you to grow. Humility keeps you focused on the bigger picture, not just on yourself.


There will be moments when it is time to dive into the unknown and take a risk. You can’t know what is going to happen and so courage becomes your great ally. Combined with strategic thinking and intuition, courage will give you the boost you need to reach greater heights within your company.


The 5 Most Important Leadership Skills

Cultivating and strengthening these five specific skills will greatly enhance your abilities as an effective leader.


Great leaders are great communicators. Without strong communication skills, it will be difficult to foster morale and understanding among your colleagues. Moreover, positive, clear communication ensures that things run smoothly within your project, organization, company or business. Excellent communicators are able to listen and respond with empathy, respect and creativity whether in a group setting or one-on-one.


If you’re pessimistic, you can bet that your team will follow suit. Find ways to promote positivity in your environment. Spin situations to your benefit and speak of what’s going on from a place of optimism. Even if those around you can’t see the bright side of a situation, if you are willing to see things from a positive perspective, you provide the opportunity for others to follow suit.

Creative Flexibility

Things are going to go wrong sometimes, but if you’re quick on your feet, you can transform what looks to be a negative into a positive for your company. Even when working with difficult people or on a hard project, if you choose to harness the power of creative flexibility, you will be able to adapt to your surroundings without losing drive, determination or passion. Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and find new ways of operating as you pursue your goals.


Even a high-performing individual like yourself will reach a point where you can no longer take on more tasks. Nor should you! Leadership isn’t about doing everything yourself. It involves learning what tasks are for you to do, and what can be handed over to others on your team to execute. Proper delegation increases motivation and can inspire others to reach more of their potential. The more you entrust others with important aspects of a project, the more you build a foundation of loyalty, commitment and confidence for yourself and your team.


The hallmark of a powerful leader is the ability to make swift, assured decisions. Sometimes the decision-making process will be clear and easy. Other times you will be faced with a high-stakes decision that many would be too afraid to make. Your decisiveness will be enhanced by your level of confidence in yourself as well as how well informed you are about the decision to be made. Be well-versed in your business, and when the time comes trust yourself to make the right choice.


How to Become a Leader

The more you put these tips into daily practice, the more you will see the benefits. Perhaps some of these pointers will come naturally to you. Others may feel more uncomfortable or foreign to you at first but keep at it! As you continue to grow and expand you will not only harness the power of these ten tips, but you will start to innovate new ways to provide a leadership energy to your workplace.

  1. Lead by Example

Whatever you expect others to do, you must be willing to do yourself. When you take actions in line with your values, you inspire others to behave in a similar manner.

  1. Set Clear Boundaries

You may be a high-performing powerhouse, but you are still human. There are going to be some behaviors that are unacceptable and some moments when you need to take time for yourself to recharge so you are ready to face your team from a place of strength. Create clear boundaries for yourself and stick to them. You will garner more respect from your team than if you take on an “anything goes” mentality.

  1. Encourage Others to Grow

You and your project, organization or business will be served by lifting others up. Your mission isn’t to be at the top of the business food chain but to create something greater than any one individual. Therefore, the stronger each member of the team becomes, the closer you get to making your vision come to life.

  1. Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

Some believe that business should be an arena devoid of emotion, but that’s not the world we live in. It is by communicating with the head and the heart that you truly reach people. What matters to others? What are their values and beliefs? What makes them feel confident, strong and appreciated? If you can tune in to the emotional needs of others, you will be able to assuage fears and create more positivity in your colleagues, clients and team-members.

  1. Have a Strong Vision

The strength and clarity of your vision will keep you and those following you on track during the tough times. The more detailed your vision of the future is, the more you will be able to communicate that vision to others. Sometimes the road to achieving your goals is long and arduous. It is the power of your vision that will get you through.

  1. Keep Developing Yourself

Leadership isn’t a destination but a continuous journey. There will always be more skills to cultivate, ideas to explore and lessons to learn. Never stop growing. Pay attention to what challenges come your way and notice where you feel you are being asked to mature in order to accomplish whatever has been presented. Then put some time and energy into developing yourself in those areas.

  1. Know Yourself

Awareness of yourself and the impact you are having on others and your environment is one of the most necessary abilities a leader can possess. The more self-aware you are, the more you are able to adjust and adapt to the needs of your project, business or team. If you see that a certain behavior you are exhibiting is producing negative results, don’t take it personally. Instead, consider altering that behavior for the benefit of all involved. You are not your behavior, but your behavior can drive how willing others are to follow you. Be smart, be mindful and be willing to change.

  1. Keep it Professional

While you want to develop a strong rapport among your team, it is important for you to keep your work relationships out of the realm of the personal. When you are surrounded by people you genuinely resonate with, it can be tempting to deepen certain relationships in a way that may feel good on a personal level, but actually weakens the professional connection. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have meaningful connections in the workplace, but as a leader you are responsible for maintaining boundaries of professionalism so as to support the bigger picture you are all in service of.

  1. Learn from Your “Mistakes”

Everything can be a learning experience if you show up for the lesson. Rather than deny the fact that you made an error, analyze the events that led to the mistake and see where you could have made a different choice. Odds are you will at some point be placed in a similar position in the future, but if you have learned your lesson from the past, you won’t make the same mistake again.

  1. Find a Mentor

Just because you are in a leadership position doesn’t mean you don’t need some leadership yourself. Find someone who you look up to and who displays the attributes you are looking to cultivate within yourself and learn from them. You may go through several mentors in your career as you continue to expand and grow but keep seeking those who are further along on your same path to gather information and wisdom from. Those who work with mentors place themselves in a position to rise more quickly within their company than those who stubbornly believe that they have to learn everything from scratch.

11. Read the book “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t” by Simon Sinek


Leadership is a practice. It is a mindset, a way of engaging in the workplace that elevates you above those who are content only to follow. Choose to innovate, to explore, to motivate others and to exercise your creativity to find new solutions to the challenges that arise in your business.

Remember: Leadership is about action. As you advance in your career, your actions will speak for themselves and will identify you as a trailblazer to those around you. There is no limit to how far you can go, as long as you are willing to put time and energy into developing yourself as a powerful, driven leader.


The Best Tips on How to Become Respected at Work

respected at work

The world of work as we know it has changed. Finding your place in workplace culture has become a more difficult task than ever before. Along with the unprecedented challenges that have arisen in recent times due to the global pandemic, modernisation and embracing future technologies have left the professional world in a vastly different place to where it was 10 years ago. 

Getting to grips with the new world of work can be tough at any level. However far along you are in your career, adapting well and gaining a level of respect from your colleagues is vital. Whether you are a manager needing to assert your authority or an assistant wanting to show that you are ready to take the next step, a high level of respect for you and the role you play within your organisation is the key to success. 

But with all of the world’s changes, and with stereotypical workplace structures being constantly reviewed, how do you manage to assert yourself and gain the respect you deserve? 


How to become respected in the office?

Long-standing clichés of bosses walking around offices and shouting the loudest to gain respect are certainly not the way to get business done in modern times. In the past, ‘respect’ has often become synonymous with ‘fear’ in a workplace environment, largely thanks to Hollywood films and outdated stereotypes. Despite the ridiculous reasoning behind it, many offices around the world can easily turn into cultures of fear. 

However, the most successful offices, and the ones that are filled with the most respect, are built on principles of support, inspiration and determination to reach shared goals. Respect isn’t a one way street in business and a mutual respect for all of your colleagues is the best way to start, wherever they sit in the hierarchy. 

When you are in an office environment, here are some key ways to gain the respect of your co-workers: 

  • Listen carefully when talked to. From a personal problem to a professional pitch, showing understanding is key.
  • Show passion for your work. Whether you are in charge of a project or just playing a supporting role, dedication and passion will not go unnoticed. 
  • Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. From implementing a new filing system to presenting a huge money making business proposal, being confident and taking the initiative will go a long way. 
  • Think about your body language. When speaking to colleagues, be sure to stand tall and show confidence to ensure your words resonate. 
  • Be on time and be present. If you’re not in the office when you’re supposed to be or colleagues start noticing a lack of attendance or attention to the job, respect can soon be lost. 
  • Don’t close yourself off. Hunching in a corner with headphones on is unlikely to result in respect, be open, welcoming and engaging around colleagues. 


How to become respected over email?

Since the widespread usage of the internet began in the 1990s, it is rare that any professional environment will function without the use of email. The speed, directness and ease of using email can be invaluable to a business, but losing the personal contact you receive in a meeting room or office can lead to trouble, confusion and a lack of respect. 

If you have already established a level of respect within your workplace, whether through the level of your role or a friendly office demeanour, then emails can be a useful tool to continue the narrative of respect away from the building. However, if used incorrectly or inappropriately, emails can also undermine levels of respect you have created or block you from gaining the respect you seek. 

In a world where we communicate more and more frequently through the medium of email, here are some top tips for using them to your advantage: 

  • Don’t over-email. Your colleagues should know when they receive an email from you that it really matters, it’s not useless office gossip or another comic video. 
  • Keep it short and sweet. Make sure your email tone matches your tone in the office and don’t be overly wordy when making your point. 
  • Be clear and concise. Unless you know your colleague very well, be careful not to use too many jokes or ironic references as these can be easily misunderstood and cause offence. 
  • Grab attention. Think about the subject line you choose to command colleagues’ respect and make them take notice from the very first line. 
  • Follow proper email etiquette. Manners matter, even online, so making sure your emails contain proper greetings, sign offs and the right level of formality is essential. 
  • Check before you send. We have all fallen victim to technological slip ups, but accidentally clicking ‘email all’ on a confidential document or ccing a colleague whose performance you are discussing will show carelessness and a lack of respect. 


How to become respected on video call? 

In a time where many employees are unable to work from traditional office environments or simply choosing to work remotely, establishing team dynamics and structures over video calls is more important than ever.

These new technologies have revolutionized the way we work, but commanding respect can be a more difficult task while working from home. You might not be physically in your office, but the most successful practices from the real world are certainly worth trying out virtually. 

With new technology comes new challenges, but also new opportunities. Here are a few ways to use the new world of work to gain and keep the respect of those around you: 

  • Don’t hog attention. While you may have gotten away with being the loudest voice in the meeting room, it is far clearer for everyone to see when only one person’s face fills the screen. Take pauses and allow others to contribute. 
  • Show praise for others. In a time where teams are separated and you are unable to simply pat your colleague on the back for a job well done, you can still show your support and appreciation during your conference calls through kind words and congratulations. 
  • Be patient. You might be a whizz with digital platforms but not everyone is. Getting overly agitated that someone is ‘on mute’ won’t win any respect, but being kind, considerate and offering help will. 
  • Be prepared. It can be easy to forget to bring documents to a meeting or to find excuses for a lack or preparation in the real world. When your whole professional life is on your laptop there’s no hiding, so prepare well to impress from the start. 
  • Get dressed. Just because you are not in the office doesn’t mean you can’t dress for business. Dressing smartly and professionally in a work environment will always demand respect and the same applies to video calls. 
  • Think about your background. We don’t all have a designated home office, but using a space that looks clean, tidy and uncluttered will allow everyone to focus on your words and ideas. 

Professional life may be constantly changing and adapting, but that simply means you have to as well. No matter the method, gaining respect, and showing respect, at work is always a route to achieve success.

Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss

never say to boss

We all want to get on better with our boss. To do this, having an open, honest line of communication is a must. But is there anything you shouldn’t say? To help you avoid saying the wrong thing, here are the things you should never say to your boss. 

1. I don’t know how / I can’t

If your boss gives you something to do and you don’t know how to do it, what’s the best response? You might think just telling them is the right approach. And while you should aim for honesty, a flat-out ‘no’ is usually wrong. We all face challenges. But your boss doesn’t want to hear about what you ‘can’t’ do. If you want to get ahead, you need to be proactive and show commitment to learning and growing.  

2. That’s not my job

Imagine you show up to work and your boss asks you to complete someone else’s work. Seems a bit unfair, right? It’s natural to want to complain about this. But, if you want to impress, it’s much better to just roll with it and remain positive. And you never know—you might learn something new while you’re at it!

3. At my last job

You may have spent a lot of time in your previous job, and have gained a lot of great experience. But guess what? Unless you’re suggesting a brilliant, creative solution inspired by your previous position, your last job has nothing to do with your new job. Maybe at your last job you were allowed to leave early Fridays. Or maybe it offered home working. Whatever it is, remember: Just because you were allowed to do something in your last job, doesn’t mean your new boss has to let you, too

4. This customer is driving me insane

In many jobs, the customer is at the heart of everything you do. They are the central focus and, while you may not like them, it’s important to be professional and avoid conflict. Your boss doesn’t want to hear about your negative feelings towards customers. After all, if the company’s success is determined by treating customers well, hearing you moaning and complaining might set off alarm bells. 

5. Swear words of any kind

A more relaxed work environment can help the time fly. And if your boss is super approachable, it’s natural to use more casual language around them. But be careful not to take it too far. Using any kind of swear words is completely off limits when talking to your boss. As friendly as your relationship is, maintaining some professionalism is a must at all times. 

6. No offense, but

This sentence tends to make people defensive. When it’s your boss, even more so. Why? Because it shows fear, a lack of confidence, and that you don’t want to take responsibility. If you’re unsure of yourself, this is something to work on. Until then, avoid this phrase at all costs! 

7. That’s not part of my job description

Sometimes, your boss might ask you to do tasks that aren’t in your job description. This might seem unfair—after all, why should you do something that’s not even your job? Whatever you’re being asked to do, chances are your boss has a reason for it. Plus, taking an optimistic approach will serve you much better in the long-term. 

8. That’s not my priority right now, so I can’t really work on it

This may seem like a fair reason not to do something. But to your boss, it just sounds like another excuse. You’re finding reasons not to do something. Whether it’s your priority or not, if it wasn’t important, your boss wouldn’t have asked you to do it. Avoid just saying no—if it’s tricky or you don’t have time, explain the problem and then offer to find a solution. 

9. It wasn’t my fault: It’s so and so’s fault

We’ve all been there. Our boss comes to us with a problem that we know isn’t our fault. In these situations, it’s easy to just pass the buck—but this is a huge mistake! When you blame someone else for messing up, it shows you’re not a team player. It might be someone else’s fault, but if you’re working as a group, it’s important that everyone takes ownership of any mistakes—including you! 

10. That’s impossible

You know what’s not an attractive quality in an employee? Giving up before you’ve even started. Whatever challenge you’re facing, saying things like “it’s impossible” is so defeatist. Instead, try and adopt a more positive mindset. Focus on finding solutions, rather than dwelling on problems and obstacles. 

11. You didn’t tell me… 

People make mistakes sometimes. And it’s pretty common to be in a situation where you’re not sure what to do. It may seem like a good excuse in your head, and it’s very easy to blame others, but this isn’t a good attitude and it definitely won’t impress your boss. Rather than making excuses like “you didn’t tell me,” take ownership. If you don’t know what to do, take the time to find out. A little effort goes a long way. 

If you need insight into better communication in the workplace, check out the book “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships” by Rosenberg PhD, Marshall B.

Ways to Stop Being Too Nice at Work and Start Being Assertive

being assertive

Photo by Cathy Yeulet

There’s nothing wrong with being nice. But, it’s important to recognize the difference between being nice and being a pushover. 

You are a serious asset to your workplace – you just need to make sure people see it! What’s holding you back from doing this? Often, it’s the ability to be assertive. 

This is something that’s essential for being taken seriously at work. Although it’s important to be respectful and polite, if you want to make big progress in your company, you need to start taking charge. It’s about putting your future in your own hands and driving your own success!

Are you wondering how you can do this? If the answer is yes, take a look at our top tips for the best ways to stop being too nice and start being more assertive at work. 

1. Be direct about what you want 

A lot of people are afraid of being too direct due to a fear of being perceived as rude or aggressive. If this sounds like you, it’s important to understand that it doesn’t have to. 

If you want to move forward, it’s important to be direct about the things you want. You can get your message across by being professional and precise in your words – this is far from rude! 

Remember, never doubt yourself or the things that you want. You should always be prepared to demonstrate your points concisely and to share the benefits of those wants with others. 

2. Always be prepared with your answers 

When you start telling people what you want, you’ll notice very quickly that they will have loads of questions. Being assertive means coming up with a clear plan of action beforehand. 

However, make sure your answers are concise. You should avoid rambling at all costs. Always ask yourself: What are the key things I want to say, and what is the most important thing that my audience takes away? This will help you get to the point quickly and make a great impression. 

3. Practice giving assertive responses 

Do you feel like people keep walking all over you? If this is the case, it’s time to start practicing some assertive responses for when this happens. It’s not about being rude, but simply demonstrating to others that you’re not willing to be pushed around or manipulated. 

For example, For example, imagine you have taken out the trash every day this week, but it is a shared task…

Co-worker: “Can you take out the garbage?”

You: “Actually, I’ve taken the garbage out every day this week. I think it’s someone else’s turn!”

As you can see, this response is strong and assertive, but not rude. It’s also much more effective than being passive or passive-aggressive towards the other person. 

4. Have self-confidence and courage 

Assertiveness and confidence go hand-in-hand. Fortunately, you can develop your confidence over time by using daily positive practices. These practices include speaking daily affirmations about yourself and reversing any negative thoughts in your mind. 

Additionally, avoid comparing yourself to others at all costs! Instead, imagine what you want in your career and never doubt your abilities. With a little work, you can get the things you want! 

If you feel like your needs aren’t being heard or met, it’s important to have courage in expressing this. Be persistent. If you’re a passionate person, this will shine through and you should maintain your level of assertion until you feel like you’re being listened to. 

5. Work on your body language 

When it comes to being assertive, your body language and tone of voice are just as important as your words. You should aim for these to be as confident as possible. 

In terms of body language, you should stand up straight and keep your shoulders back. Also, make sure you avoid defensive or nervous body language, like hunching your shoulders to make yourself look smaller, crossing your arms, or having clenched fists. 

Your tone of voice should be steady and calm, and always avoid raising your voice. Listen to the other person, too, as keeping your tone at a similar level will make them more likely to actively pay attention to you. 

6. Set clear boundaries – and stick to them! 

Another key part of being assertive is having clear boundaries for what behavior you are willing to accept from others. When you know what you won’t accept, it’s much easier to recognize when you’re being treated unfairly or when you’re not being respected. 

Having boundaries will make you feel much less anxious. Since you know what situations are unacceptable to you, it will be much easier to stand up for yourself. It also helps to have responses prepared in advance in case these situations come up. 

7. Stop apologizing when you don’t need to 

Being assertive doesn’t mean always thinking you’re right. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. Making genuine apologies when you need to is important. But, these apologies will be much more meaningful if you only say them when you need to and when you mean it. 

You don’t need to apologize for things that aren’t your fault. This includes expressing your needs and wants, both at home and at work. You don’t need to feel guilty for this, and it’s important to share these respectfully and with assertion when appropriate. 

8. Don’t take it too far 

Last but not least, it’s important to understand the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. You should be firm, but this doesn’t mean you have to be unkind. 

Aggression is usually emotionally-charged. Things like using insults or a ‘win-at-all-costs’ approach is unlikely to get you anywhere. Avoid bringing up these topics when you feel emotional, as it’s important to consider the wellbeing of others. 

Try and get your point across using other methods, like direct words, positive body language, self-confidence, and eye contact. Your co-workers will feel less attacked and will be much more likely to listen and take you seriously. 

Being assertive is the answer…

Being nice isn’t a bad thing. But, if you’re not careful, it can hamper your career progress. 

Start incorporating assertiveness into your behavior, and you’ll start seeing the positive changes you’ve been looking for!

The Most Unprofessional Work Behaviours

unprofessional work behaviours

Are you at risk for being fired? It’s more likely than we think! We have laid out for you 10 super unprofessional behaviors that you should definitely avoid if you want to keep your job! It can be difficult to avoid temptations, but if you want to move ahead in your career, you should definitely take heed! 

1. Gossiping about coworkers

Gossiping about and with your coworkers shows a lack of respect and a lack of privacy. It makes it appear as though you would prefer to talk about other people’s problems than do your work. Plus, people will lose their trust in you if they think that you will turn around and gossip about what they have shared with you. The best thing to do is support your coworkers if they confide in you or ask your advice, but let the conversation end with them. There’s absolutely no reason to share coworker’s private information with a boss or another coworker. 

2. Ignoring boundaries with coworkers

In the workplace, it’s best if you keep all interactions professional, even if it seems easier or more fun to interact informally. It’s normal to be friendly and conversational, but try not to be too nosy or impose too much on your coworkers’ time. Respect physical boundaries as well, keeping a couple feet away, for instance, and modelling your coworkers’ behavior with you. Flirting is similarly not acceptable because you need to keep in mind that your coworkers should feel 100% safe and comfortable in their place of work. This sense of security will vanish if anyone feels uneasy or pressured to behave a certain way around you. 

3. Behaving poorly at work-social events

Work events are a great chance to get to know your coworkers. Have fun, laugh, and dance a little! However, it’s important to not cross the line between having a good time and ruining your reputation. An after-work happy hour is a nice casual event. Drinking too much may cause you to embarrass yourself, dance like crazy and laugh or talk too loud. It’s always a good idea to get to know the people you are working with better, but be sure not to throw aside your professional relationships or flirt with your coworkers.

4. Using your phone or laptop while talking to people

While it may be tempting to multi-task, it shows a lack of respect if you’re paying more attention to your phone or laptop than to the people in front of you. When coworkers are giving you their time and attention, it’s important to return the favor. If you’re working with customers, then using your phone in front of them makes them feel much less important and shows that you’re more involved in your own social life than your work. Remind yourself how you would feel if you were trying to have an important conversation with someone that wasn’t bothering to make eye contact, and keep that in mind going forward.  

5. Showing bad manners

If you have no concern for the way you treat others, people will be on guard around you and will not trust that you can treat them with respect. Waiting your turn and saying please and thank you may seem like things you teach tiny children, but they make such a difference as adults too. When your coworkers know you are considerate, they have more faith in you and feel like you will not take advantage of them. Try to avoid things like chewing with your mouth open, singing or talking loudly, interrupting, or disrupting the flow of the office. 

6. Being unresponsive 

When you are not at work, it’s incredibly tempting to ignore that text from your boss or the email waiting for you from your coworker. After all, your time should be yours when you are not on the clock. Although it may not be mandatory for you to give a timely response, it’s certainly frowned upon when you do not. Quick responses show that you can be depended on, and that you are interested and care about your work. The same goes for during office hours. Try not to procrastinate! If you take an entire day or longer to respond to an email or call, your client will feel ignored. The best idea is to set aside 30 minutes of each workday to respond to messages. You might even need to set aside two blocks of time, depending on how frequently you receive emails or calls.

7. Being aggressive

Sometimes you will have a project you feel passionate about. It’s important you let your enthusiasm come across in a positive way. However, when you’re overly aggressive, you do not come across as a team player. You may be trying to make your point, but make sure you take the time to listen to others and show them consideration. If your coworkers feel attacked, they will defensively tune you out. Besides, they may have an idea you hadn’t thought of. If you are too forceful, people will think you do not want to work with others and may leave you out of group projects or will be unwilling to help you in the future. 

8. Lying or stealing

It may seem like no big deal to change the truth slightly or take something small, but these actions are incredibly unprofessional. Cheating your work out of money or trying to cover up your mistakes by lying shows that you are not trustworthy. People may think that you’re trying to take advantage of them or using them for your own gain. They will likely also question your ability or likelihood to be honest in the future, greatly increasing your risk of being fired. 

9. Being the office prankster

Everyone wants to be well-liked, but being the cause of all the amusement in the office will likely take a toll on people’s opinion of you. If they begin to view you as the office prankster, they may think you’re not to be taken seriously during difficult work matters. It’s unlikely that your boss will choose you for the most serious tasks, if they think you cannot focus or be serious. If you focus too much on having a good time, it will start to show that you’re not putting your energy towards your work. The best thing to do is have fun tactfully, but focus when it’s time to be serious. This will show your coworkers and boss that you’re reliable and capable of hard work. 

10. Dressing unprofessionally 

In an office setting, the norm is to dress on the consesrvative side if you want to be taken seriously. Whether or not we like it, the way we dress has a massive effect on the way that we are perceived by others, and even on the way we act. One study showed that women who wear makeup are perceived as more competent, while another showed that women showing skin in pictures were viewed as having less agency and intelligence. Research also shows that wearing formal clothes changes not only the way people perceive us, but also increases abstract thinking and gives us a broader perspective! Keeping all this in mind, the best thing is to appear more formal and professional when you are around your coworkers and boss. After-work functions like black tie events or more casual events like picnics are exceptions, of course. 

Did you see yourself reflected in this list? If so, it’s not too late to turn things around! Don’t give in to temptation, and you will see interactions with your coworkers and boss improve substantially! If you are curious about more ways to revitalize your career, check out our other articles! Best of luck!

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

emotional intelligence

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Introduction and Definition

Often, when evaluating our worth in the workplace or in the job hunt, we focus on the “hard skills”. Maybe you feel valuable because you are certified in Project Management, or maybe it’s because you speak French? Maybe it’s because you are, in fact, an Excel genius (everyone claims to be these days, but you actually are).

But one of the most prized skills to have in the workplace is surprisingly emotional intelligence. Wait, that’s a “soft skill”, right? That is correct, but that doesn’t take away from its importance. According to Forbes, “Emotional intelligence is one of the strongest indicators of success in business.” Interesting, right?

Emotional intelligence is essentially your ability to understand and respond to your own emotions and needs and your ability to understand and respond to the emotions and needs of others. Most people think of emotional intelligence as just your ability to read others, but it’s much more than that. It’s also about how you react to different situations. For example, how do you respond to change?

Attributes of Emotional Intelligence

There are many ways to define emotional intelligence. But, most experts agree that it can be broken down into four main attributes: 

  1. Self-management

Do you feel like you’re able to control your impulses? If the answer is yes, this could be a sign of strong emotional intelligence. Self-management means being able to manage your emotions in a healthy way, which includes controlling any impulsive feelings or behaviors. 

This skill is so useful in the workplace, and in other areas of life. It can help you take initiative when needed, be adaptable to challenging situations and keep commitments you’ve made. 

  1. Self-awareness

Another trait found in people with high emotional intelligence is a sense of self-awareness. What does this mean? Simply, it means you’re able to recognize your own feelings effectively and understand how they affect your thoughts and actions. 

Those with high levels of self-awareness are more likely to be confident in themselves and their abilities. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they are more likely to be successful. 

  1. Social awareness 

You’ve probably heard about the importance of empathy. But did you know it’s an important aspect of emotional intelligence? Being socially aware and empathizing with others means recognizing the needs of others, as well as picking up on emotional cues easily. 

Social awareness is vital in the workplace, as it helps you better understand other people’s emotions and concerns. It also makes you more comfortable socially, especially in groups. 

  1. Relationship management

The fourth attribute of emotional intelligence is relationship management. Basically, how good are you at developing and maintaining relationships? 

People that excel in this area are often much better at building healthy relationships with others. They know how to communicate, work well in a team, and they know how to manage conflict and influence others in social settings.

Many employers nowadays are open to hiring the employee with higher emotional intelligence over the employee who has all of the hard skills but is not empathetic or is difficult to work with. For that reason, it’s important to continually develop your emotional intelligence to succeed.

Examples of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

You might be saying to yourself, I am already pretty strong in this area! Or, I spend all day staring at my computer or working independentlyThis doesn’t concern me.

Contrary to popular belief, Our ability to connect with others isn’t something we only utilize for in-person interactions, and it’s also not something that we learn once and never have to visit again.

Here are some examples of instances when a high level of emotional intelligence would come in handy when:

  • working with a difficult co-worker
  • working in a team
  • disagreeing with a boss
  • trying to make a client feel welcome
  • asking for or giving help
  • bonding with co-workers
  • adapting to changes
  • taking responsibility for a mistake


Signs of Poor Emotional Intelligence

We’ve now touched on when emotional intelligence might be useful, but how can we identify poor emotional intelligence? How do we know when we need to improve?

1) You are too argumentative at work.

Do you often find yourself in tense situations with your co-workers or your supervisors? Emotional intelligence is equal parts knowing when to be honest and make your feelings known and recognizing when it’s better to just bite your tongue.

Sometimes, one of the best ways to enact change at work isn’t through direct confrontation. Often, it comes from taking a step back and trying to recognize why your co-worker or boss has made a certain decision. From there, you can decide the best course of action, which is oftentimes not an argument at all. Maybe it’s accepting a situation you can’t change. Maybe it’s finding a compromise. Maybe it’s giving the situation time and revisiting it later.

In the end, if you determine none of these options are realistic, tell this person directly but not aggressively. Argumentativeness at work isn’t necessarily bad, but it can be if it’s happening frequently and with a defensive tone.

2) You don’t have many friends at the office.

Do you find it difficult to connect with your co-workers? It’s possible that they are all boring or conniving or have completely different interests, but it’s more possible that maybe you aren’t making much of an effort to connect with others. Not getting along well with co-workers is a red flag to employers that you cannot thrive in certain social situations.

3) You’re sometimes negative.

It’s a Friday night, and you’ve just found out you need to work late. Instead of just accepting it and getting the work done, you spend the whole time pouting and complaining about having to be there. In every job, in every company, in every country, there are instances when we have to work a little extra. Complaining about it, unfortunately, isn’t going to make the situation any better and brings down the mood of everyone around you.

4) You aren’t getting promoted.

There is a myriad reasons that might explain not getting promoted, but one of them is surely a lack of emotional intelligence. Why would an employer want to promote you if you have a hard time meeting new people? Or if you find it difficult to adapt to new rules around the office?

Emotional Intelligence Skills

1. Listening

Listening is the key to emotional intelligence. By listening, you learn more about the other person and, thus, can figure out how to work better together. Listening is not staring at the other person while you formulate your next sentence but rather truly hearing the person speak.

2. Empathizing

Another important facet of emotional intelligence is empathizing with other people. Empathizing is putting yourself in your co-worker’s shoes and wondering, “why might she feel this way?”. Empathizing is also giving someone the benefit of the doubt, as we don’t always understand what everyone else has experienced that might have led to this place.

3. Communicating directly but diplomatically

Passive aggressiveness is, in a way, the antithesis of emotional intelligence. It shows that you a) cannot deal with conflict and b) that you can’t manage your own feelings. While we don’t want to be argumentative at work, we do want to be direct and honest when honesty will enact meaningful change.

It’s also important to pick your battles and decide how you are going to react. Got a co-worker who chews loudly at his desk? Put on your headphones and find your zen. It’s not worth it. Got a co-worker who always interrupts you in meetings? Pull that co-worker aside and let him know how this behavior makes you feel and that it is not okay.

How to improve emotional intelligence

1) Mediate

It might sound silly, but getting in touch with your thoughts and emotions is the best way to get in touch with those of others. Every once in a while, particularly when you are stressed or having a hard time regulating your emotions, take a beat and meditate. Listen to your thoughts. Feel the way your body tenses and relaxes. You can’t control your emotions or thoughts, but you can choose how to react to them.

2) Listen, listen, listen

The next time you find yourself in a difficult interpersonal situation, remind yourself to listen. Even if the person sounds insane. Even if you know they are wrong.  Let completely finish their thought before jumping in and encourage them to continue if they cut themselves off. If we feel heard, we often feel understood and more comfortable. Just listen. Sometimes, that person might surprise you. And if they don’t? Then, you can approach the situation confident that you have looked at it from someone else’s point of view.

3) Think before you speak

This one is something we have to learn again and again and again. We get comfortable and forget. Take a millisecond and think before you speak, particularly in high-stress situations. Does what I’m about to say change anything? Will this hurt someone? Could it be interpreted as judgmental? Whiny? Aggressive? Am I saying this because I’m angry?

4) Practice being honest diplomatically

Particularly if you want to be a leader, you’re going to need to have a lot of difficult conversations and to ruffle a lot of feathers to get things done. The key is doing so tactfully. Start by practicing saying the word, “no,” once a day. If that feels difficult, start with, “I’ll think about it,” and work your way up to a firm but polite “no”. Eventually, you’ll learn how to look someone in the eye and say what you think without feeling awkward or too aggressive. It’s a fine line, but, once you find it, you’re golden.

5) Make new friends

Make the first move to making new friendships. Sometimes what holds us back at work is taking that first step. It could be as easy as making a comment about the weather or something more personal like commenting on a co-worker’s recent accomplishment. Making new friends at work is key to your ability to thrive in your company. The more you know about someone, the better you can work together.

6) Practice positivity

It can be hard sometimes, for example, in the dead of winter, to feel cheery going into work. But, sometimes, even if we aren’t feeling so joyful, it’s helpful to fake it. If you feign a little happiness, you might actually end up feeling that way. Try to think of things you have to look forward to, and, if there’s nothing, create something! Make plans to treat yourself to something small, like a new top, a massage, or a brunch date with friends. When you’re positive, people will want to be around you, and you’ll do better at work.

7) Read the book “Emotional Intelligence” by Glen Cummings


Emotional intelligence is something we can look forward to working on for the rest of our careers. When we’re strong in it, not only do we excel at work but in our personal lives as well. It’s a “soft skill,” yes, but one of the most important skills a person can have. Luckily, it’s a skill that doesn’t require a ton of effort to practice, as you can do so in everyday conversations and interactions. With a little self-awareness and patience, you should start to feel a difference in your interpersonal skills right away. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a promotion, too.