I’m all about building rapport, communicating, and creating great relationships with people at work, including your boss. However, there are some things you should just keep to yourself if you want to continue to be successful, and climb the ladder, in your career.
Yes, I realize when you read some of these items, some of you will say, “They would never use that against me, ” and you may be right. However, when you don’t get the promotion, the pay increase, or some other opportunity, you’ll never know that it could have been due to sharing one of these things. So, why take the chance?
Here are the five things you should never tell your boss.
1. Your outside income, including your spouse’s.
Telling your boss that you have outside income is just asking for trouble. In fact, a previous employer once told me, when he decided not to give me a promised pay increase, “I had to make some budget cuts and I didn’t think you needed it.” Additionally, imagine a scenario where you have outside income and you’re competing for a promotion against a coworker whose spouse is unemployed or underemployed. Your supervisor is aware of both situations. Even if it’s not conscious on your supervisor’s part, you could lose out on a promotion even though you’re equally qualified because he or she may think you don’t “need” the promotion as much as the other person.
2. Your outside commitments.
Telling your supervisor that you can’t stay late because you’re going out with the girls, or your son has a baseball game, makes you a good friend or parent. However, your supervisor may interpret things differently. It could send the message that your priorities aren’t aligned with his or hers or with the mission of the organization. It could cause others to question your commitment to your job. Therefore, it’s better to say, “I can’t today, I have another commitment.” Then, if you can offer an alternative, such as, “. . .but I can come in early tomorrow to help,” or “. . .but I can work on it through lunch tomorrow,” so much the better.
3. Your political interests.
Bringing up your political beliefs and causes you support at work gives you a 50-50 chance of ending up on the opposite side of an issue with your boss. Why risk it? Unless you work for a think tank or are working on a political campaign, leave your politics at the door when you get to work.
4. Mental health or other issues for which you’re pursuing therapy.
If you’re going through a divorce or are seeking help with depression, your supervisor might be very understanding. However, it can also lead your boss to question your ability to do your job. Therefore, unless there’s some immediate, compelling reason to share this information, it’s better to keep the specifics to yourself. If you have to leave work early to see a therapist or psychiatrist, simply tell your boss that you have a doctor’s appointment. If you need to take a day off, keep your reasons vague. Your boss doesn’t need to know the reason you need a personal day.
5. What you REALLY think of him or her, right before you quit.
There may be times, especially during an exit interview, to share ideas for making the workplace better or what might have made you stay. However, NEVER see quitting as the opportunity for an unedited rant of “100 Things I Hate About You.” Not only is this unprofessional, but remember, just about every future company you apply to will contact your former supervisor for information about you; even if you don’t put him or her down as a reference. In fact, for some employers, the fact that you didn’t put your previous supervisor on your list of references is a red flag that will put your former supervisor on the top of their call list.