Bosses are traditionally, historically and culturally assumed to be evil humans, incapable of showing humans emotions. However, in this writer’s opinion, that is not the case. There are no bad bosses, just bad situations. On second thoughts, maybe there are bad bosses, but they aren’t as evil, or as common as popular culture has led us to believe. Yes, you may have come across one or two exceptionally difficult bosses, but quite a few of them are also nice, friendly, reasonable and good leaders. If there were only bad bosses in this world, this article wouldn’t have existed, for we wouldn’t really have cared if our questions are making them uncomfortable or not. But the fact is that, there are a lot of bosses who are good friends or at least on friendly terms, with their team members and employees. The following is a list of questions, for such bosses, that you must not ask, because there is no officially correct answer to them:
How much money do you make?
NO (In Upper case). It is rude, indecent and intruding to ask someone about their salary anyway, the last of which should be your boss. Sure, you are on good terms with them, and they know how much you make, and you are itching to know their remuneration, probably for your future advancement plans in the organisation, but asking this question can potentially put a dent your cordial relationship. Focus on your career, your growth, and your own learning.
XYZ got promoted/ got a raise, even though I have been here longer. Why?
Promotions, raises and increments always follow an evaluation process of some sorts, and are rarely random or non-periodical. In such a scenario, if the raise didn’t come through, or the increment was marginal, the correct question to ask is where you are currently lacking. Remember, raises are earned, not gifted. Your boss maybe cordial with your outside of the office space, but as a boss, they are expected to discharge their duties in a fair and objective manner, and for you to leverage your friendship, reflects poorly on you. More so, it puts the boss in a difficult position.
Why are we even having this meeting or can I leave the meeting early?
First, you’ve come to the meeting unprepared. Second, you’ve announced it. Big mistake. Your one-on-one conversations with your boss might cover a lot of things that could be potentially discussed in the meeting, but that is no reason to give it a miss. Meetings are formal and official spaces, which are carried with a certain objective in mind, and for you to skip them, because you have a lot on your plate, or because you think your boss will let this one slide is unacceptable. Do not use your friendship with your boss to get a free pass for missing meetings, or leaving them midway, and respect the dynamics of the team.
What are your plans for the weekend?
Again, there is no rule that says that there needs to be strong camaraderie in the team. Does everyone need to be on friendly terms? Yes. Does that mean everybody needs to be friends outside of office? No. At the end of the day, your relationship with your boss and colleagues is a professional one first, and everything else later. No matter if you are new to the city, or looking to catch up the match together, do not assume that your co-workers and boss will not say no to hanging out on the weekend. Everyone working in the same organisations is almost never a strong enough reason to be best friends with one another, so do not assume so. Well then, how do you bond outside of office? For starters observe the conversations you have with your boss and colleagues, and how much of it is work-related, and you’ll have your answer!
When will you retire?
Even if you are super-pally with your boss, do not ask this question. You may say that your curiosity got the better of you, but it will look like you are waiting for them to leave, or eyeing their position, both of which are likely to affect your professional dynamics. Furthermore, this could be taken as a sign that you think your boss is too old for the job, and their age is working against them. There is no connotation, or outcome, where asking this question has a positive result. Lastly, you should have no business knowing this information. This is a personal decision to make, and it is better to suppress your innate nosy human curiosity, and never ask.
This simple list draws from experience, and reading what others have already written, but is enough to show that the dynamics between and boss and his/her worker are never easy to comprehend. The fact that both the parties need to look out for each other’s best interests, along with the organisation, can sometimes be a difficult position to be in.
What is the most awkward question you have asked your boss, or have been asked as a boss? Let us know in the comments!