15 Things to Avoid if You Want to Stay on Your Boss’s Good Side

Many would agree that your reputation is just as important as your ability to perform when it comes to work. No matter how well you do your job, if your boss has a poor opinion of you, it could cost you that good recommendation or big promotion.

Here are 15 things you should avoid if you want to stay on your boss’s good side.


Frequently taking extra-long lunches.
Once in a while, we all might indulge in a few extra minutes of break time. But when you’re taking long lunches on the reg, it does not look good. Your boss may not say anything to you right away, but don’t be fooled: they always notice. Always.

Calling in sick on a Monday or Friday.
Whether you have a legitimate reason or not, being absent on these days just looks fishy. Personally, I would rather drag my sick self to work and let my boss actually see that I may or may not be carrying a deadly disease so that they are supportive when I excuse myself for the rest of the day.

Spelling and grammatical errors.
It is generally a good rule to proofread everything you write. From emails to reports to memos, spelling and grammatical errors just look sloppy. Unfortunately, these kinds of errors might cause your boss to think that you are less intelligent than you really are.

Badmouthing coworkers or past employers.
Badmouthing others to make yourself look better always has the opposite effect. Instead of your boss thinking about how great you are compared to everyone else, they are going to be wondering what else you tell people outside of the office.

Talking about your excessive drinking or partying.
This might have seemed cool when you were 19. Now? Not so cute. Your boss doesn’t want to have to question whether you can be trusted to go out for drinks with clients or represent your company at events (without turning into a hot mess).

Consistently being late.
When you are frequently late for work, meetings, and deadlines, it sends the message that you do not respect others people’s time. Your boss may start to wonder how can you possibly handle a big project if you can’t even manage your own time. Bye-bye promotion.

Telling tall tales.
Bragging or exaggerating about money, possessions, and accomplishments (to name a few) is just plain tacky. You are not fooling anyone by pretending to be something that you’re not – especially when it comes to your boss. Stay true to yourself and be proud of what you have done, but don’t stretch the truth or rub it in others’ faces.

Discussing your relationship or life problems (without being prompted).
Your boss should care about your well-being, but they probably do not want to hear a detailed recounting of your latest fight over what to watch on Netflix. If something is truly bothering you, it’s okay to tell your boss that you are having a rough day. Just don’t air all of your dirty laundry at work; it is unprofessional. Your boss is not your therapist.

Photo: Koren Shadmi

Beating a dead horse. All. The. Time.
Sure, it may have been exciting to find out that you and your boss share a hobby. But when that becomes the only thing you ever talk to them about it can get a little dull. Repeatedly discussing the same things over and over again is going to make your boss see you as one-dimensional. Try something new and see where the conversation goes.

Me, me, me and never we.
When all that your boss hears from you is “me, my, and I” and never “we, our, or us,” you will start to appear self-centred or self-important. You will not be seen as a team player if you take sole credit for a group effort and never include your colleagues in your discussions.

Being a Know-it-All.
Have you ever heard the saying “know-it-alls often know the least?” When you try to be the expert on everything, people will see through it. Plus, your boss may feel you are trying to outsmart him or her and be rubbed the wrong way.

Never admitting your mistakes.
When a person can’t admit their own mistakes, even when they know they are wrong, they can be seen as unreliable or untrustworthy. Take ownership of your mistakes and show your boss how you will learn from them and do better next time.

Complaining or whining about work.
We are all given work from time to time that we do not want to do. Sometimes you just have to suck it up because whining about it isn’t going to get you anywhere. If you have a legitimate issue, talk about it professionally and reasonably with your boss. “I can’t,” “I don’t want to,” and “I’m too busy” are not things you should say.

Consistently using the work phone/computer for personal use.
Every workplace has its own policy about this. Generally speaking, though, you should be careful not to overuse your office phone or computer for personal use. If you spend all of your time surfing social media and talking to your friends about your weekend, your boss is going to wonder how much work you are actually getting done.

Going straight to your boss’s superior without keeping your boss in the loop.
This can get a little tricky. Even if your boss’s superior asks you for something directly, it is common courtesy to keep your boss informed about your interactions with their boss. A quick cc on an email and you’re probably good. If you go straight over your boss’s head to discuss things with their superior, you could unintentionally offend them.