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10/30/2014
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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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asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
10/30/2014 | 10:28:59 PM
Free yourself from the tyranny of corporate employment
All of which is exactly why if you can be your own boss, then you should!
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. 
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
10/30/2014 | 6:03:24 PM
about half
Oh my, I know someone that's heard over half of these and worse. Including 'it must be something you coded', when something blew up instead of the code the boss wrote with obvious mistakes. (Needless to say resumes are circulating.)

Now what can we do to make those phrases less scary? Other than having our skills up to date and a number of a headhunter?
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. 
Yanda
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Yanda,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/30/2014 | 1:32:06 PM
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When I see "1 of 10", I look for "read as list". When that is missing I've learned it's best just to move on. When I'm bored I might take time to leave a comment first. :-)
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Ninja
10/30/2014 | 1:00:01 PM
Re: 8 Scariest Comments Your Boss Can Make
These are all very scary! I have been subjected to them all. The scariest is vacation...don't mess with my family vacay!
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