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10/30/2014
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David Wagner
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8 Scariest Comments Your Boss Can Make

"You're fired" is scary, but obvious. These eight terrifying phrases could blindside you.
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(Image: sketch_a_chick)

Halloween is just around the corner, so it's time to talk about scary things. But there are things in this world that are much more frightening than ghosts and ghoulies. There's Kim Kardashian. There's the fact that some people like Kim Kardashian. And then there's your boss.

Even if you've got a great boss who cares about you, your happy life is in his or her hands. As we discovered in the slightly friendly ghost story "A Christmas Carol," your boss has the power to make your day easier or harder. He or she can treat you like a king, but we have to remember that bosses have a boss, too. And sometimes, whether or not it's intentional, your boss is going to make your life miserable.

Just remember: Scares run downhill.

With a single IM, phone call, or menacing shout from behind a closed office door, the boss can start a chain reaction of pain from the penthouse boardroom at corporate HQ to the night shift guy at the branch office in Timbuktu. If you've been in the workforce for even a couple of months, you've seen it firsthand. You might have even helped it happen, as your boss uttered a few short words that turned you into your team's personal Nightmare on Elm Street.

The worst part is that, just like a character in a horror movie, you usually don't suspect much until it's too late. A nice vacation at the lake before graduation turns into a fight for survival with a machete-wielding madman. A normal day at the office becomes a fight to save the project before you and the project get axed.

Here's a list of eight warning signs that your boss is about to make your day scarier than the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and possibly just as bloody. We skipped some of the obvious ones like "you're fired" and "we're laying off half the company." We have the subtle ones that might blindside you. Being scared is one thing, but being tricked when you expect a treat just isn't fun.

You can't really avoid them, but you can steel yourself for the inevitable. And if you find yourself hearing them a few too many times, you know it is time to perform an exorcism ... on your job.

Check out the list, and then go into the comments and add the scariest things your boss ever said to you.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
11/3/2014 | 10:35:08 AM
Re: The words get in the way ...of the truth!
That's the best way to look at these words -- to turn them into an opportunity. Sure, it's easier said than done and sometimes we need to take the time to mope and recover from harsh words (whether or not there's truth to them). But if you can take a challenge and turn it into a victory, or take strong criticism and build on it (at that company or another organization), you win. 
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
10/31/2014 | 11:04:21 PM
Re: The words get in the way ...of the truth!

Dave sometimes that is the truth but I once picked up a project that no one wanted and turned it into hundreds of thousands of clients for a company. In my case most people were too afraid to take a risk, if the project failed it would have been the end of the job or career stagnation but if it succeeded it meant a promotion and other opportunities. In that case I was glad I took the project no one wanted.

David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/30/2014 | 6:06:05 PM
Re: about half
@kstaron- I'd like to think some of these phrases, if repeatedly used, would get the attention of HR. In the real world, however, I think the best thing to do is look for another team in your company that might be run by more of a manager.

i should also say, sometime people deserve some of these. A good manager can use some of these as a last resort or as a special hammer. if you deserve it, the best thing to do is shape up. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/30/2014 | 3:12:37 PM
Re: Beware of the "Special Projects" Department
@somedude- In deed, i have a planned sequel. Since it might not come out until November we might need to change it to things we're thankful our employees don't say" or something. But i definitely planned on turning the tables soon. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/30/2014 | 3:09:26 PM
Re: The words get in the way ...of the truth!
@imapactnow- Thanks! glad you enjoyed it. Funny, there was a time when I thought I could make a living doing all the projects nobdy wanted to do. I thought if i could be the guy who picked up the trash, I'd be a hero. It doesn't turn out that way. i figured out later they don't want it because it isn't on the right path to success. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/30/2014 | 3:05:23 PM
Re: Beware of the "Special Projects" Department
@memphisITDude- Oh, so true. Chances are good, you never want your name associated with anything "special." I do know one person, however, who sat under special assignment in a company for 15 years without any real job, but making serious pay. He was sort of forgotten. If your ego can take that sort of thing, it is a pretty good gig. 
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2014 | 3:04:24 PM
The words get in the way ...of the truth!

Dave this was just hysterical--for anyone that has worked in corporate America it is the handbook of corporate euphemisms. My other favorite was "I have a great new opportunity for you" clarifications "This is the project no one wants" or "My boss gave me this project and I don't want it so you can do it!"

 

David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/30/2014 | 3:03:20 PM
Re: 8 Scariest Comments Your Boss Can Make
@Shane- Ha! Definitely not. Unless the answer was "I was out signing up a new billion dollar client" no answer is going to work there. What's interesting about the "where were you question" is that you don't know who was being unreasonable. You might have a boss who thinks he needs to sit on you, or you might be really terrible about knowing when that lunch was a bad idea. 
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2014 | 9:45:36 AM
Re: 8 Scariest Comments Your Boss Can Make
"Where were you?" is never a good thing to be asked.
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