A friend can’t fire you, forget to pay you or force you to work while you’re on leave at a silent retreat in the Tibet. Your boss can. So before your boss becomes your ‘bestie,’ take note of some of the things you should never say to your boss.
(Remember, you and your boss speak different languages. Translations have been provided.)
“I’m falling asleep at my desk.” Translation: I’m bored. Or lazy. Or both. I need more work to do so please hand me a list of 700 things to do before lunch.
“I’m just paying for these eBay orders.” Translation: My collectible Elvis pajamas are more important than the report I have to do for tomorrow.
“Is that really your husband/wife/cat/mistress? Seriously?” Translation: I can’t believe how ugly that thing is. I need four hours of boring admin to erase the image from my mind.
“Can I borrow your tie/comb/GHD/lip balm, please?” Translation: I’m a) too concerned with my appearance and b) not aware of how far across the line I am. Maybe you should cut me out of the next project so that I’ll learn my lesson?
“I’m grumpy today.” Translation: I’m going to be sulky about everything you ask me to do.
“Blah blah blah, Dude!” Translation: I speak like an adolescent tree-hugger. I shouldn’t be working in a professional environment.
“I can teach you how to do the Viennese waltz.” Translation: I have no personal boundaries.
“I wanted to buy my Mom jewellery yesterday but I didn’t have enough money.” Translation: I want a raise but I’d rather hint about it than ask you directly.
“I bought a new Tag Heuer to add to my collection.” Translation: I’m earning too much money. I don’t need you to give me a raise.
“What would you do without me?” Translation: I think I’m irreplaceable. And I’m feeling smug because you messed up and I fixed it for you.”
Professional vs personal
These days, the line between professional and personal is more difficult to define.
Social media gives anyone (including your employer) access to personal information. In the pre-MySpace days, professional and personal were separated because there wasn’t a crossover between the two thanks to Facebook, mobile phones and the Internet. And if you’re used to being open about your personal life online, you’ll find it easier to be open in ‘real’ life.
The laid-back illusion
You may think you have an easy-going boss. And because you spend more time with them than you do with almost anyone, you’ll be tempted to confide in them. But laid-back bosses are still responsible for your career (and finances) so, regardless of how much you adore them, respect the power that they have over your future.
Exemptions and exceptions
Here’s the ‘but’: A close relationship with your boss can be beneficial, to both of you. Liking your boss on a personal level will increase your loyalty to them. It’s also harder to disappoint someone you care for. And if you share a mindset, you’ll work well together.
It’s up to you to decide how much the line can be blurred. You have more leeway in a small company than you do in a large corporation.
Just don’t fall asleep on the floor, ask them to marry you or tell them how you really feel about their obsession with cats.