Seriously. Fuck your boss.
Let’s be honest: everyone wants to say ‘fuck off’ to their boss. Yet, the weird corporate power dynamic leaves us shaking in the knees regarding actual work confrontation.
Yeah, you may have those hypothetical arguments in the shower or while stuck in rush hour traffic. Still, when the moment comes, you retreat too much, giving your boss the edge.
“Ranking on the lower level of the professional totem pole seems to make a lot of people passive or perhaps they are there because they are passive.” — Steven Montenko
Yet, you don’t have to be passive.
There are productive ways to properly tell your boss to “fuck off” without explicitly telling them to “fuck off.” You just have to play their game and ask five simple questions.
Note: While I wholeheartedly stand behind this advice (as it has worked for me), I can’t guarantee the same results. But hey, they’re all the better than dropping an f-bomb in the office.
‘Could You Please Show Me?’
There’s something so piercing about your boss complaining about your efficiency when you know you’ve been putting in 110%. It’s demoralizing to you as an individual and as an employee.
So, the next time your boss decides to drop the efficiency argument, simply say: “could you please show me, then?”
It’s one of my favorites. Bad managers often tend to be problem-oriented. They can point out the littlest mistakes in a report and chastise you for leaving five minutes early. Still, they continually refuse to develop solutions to these problems. By asking to ‘show me,’ you’re searching for an answer. You’re asking them to back up their word.
This question works great with micromanagers. They want to control every aspect of your day-to-day and are so quick to point out what you’re doing wrong. So, by asking them to show you what they want, you just follow their lead. And next time they critique your work, you have the valid excuse: But this is how you showed me how to do it!
Moreover, this builds trust with your boss and shows them that you take a genuine interest in your job. Therefore, giving you a little time to get them off your back.
You can eliminate the situations you want to tell your boss to ‘fuck off’ by just asking for help.
‘How Does That Relate To What We Were Previously Discussing?’
It’s the classic deflection, snowball fallacy, and Whataboutism debate tactic: if X happens, Y will happen.
It’s why when you ask your boss for a raise, they say they would have to give anyone a raise. If you bring up an issue with the co-worker, they may say: “but what about this other negative thing you do?”
The logic in this situation is not always sound, but it may feel too aggressive to correct your boss. So, instead of arguing with your boss about why you want to take a personal day for a four-day Memorial weekend, you need to be prepared. When they question your motives or bring up issues that aren’t relative, you simply say: “how does that relate to what we were previously discussing?”
It’s like asking someone to explain a joke. Most of the time, the punchline doesn’t make sense if you have to elaborate.
Also, it’s a win-win situation. If your boss’s logic is flawed, you can poke holes in it, tailoring your needs to theirs. If their logic is sound, you simply have a better understanding of management’s inner working. Therefore, you can adapt your work behaviors to theirs in the future.
By separating your issues and portraying them as unique, your boss may be more eager to help resolve your problems.
‘Who DOES have that ability?’
If you’re like me, you are constantly looking to improve the ways of work. Whether it’s automating a menial task, blocking my time, or even asking for an extra computer monitor. While some of these changes you can enact on your own, other ones may be a bit questionable or may require managerial approval before implementation.
But, when you gain enough courage to talk to your manager about it, they tend to have the same response: “I can’t do that.”
If you’re like most workers — that’s the end of the conversation. But, if you wholeheartedly feel like your solution can improve your work situation, there’s one more question you should ask: “Who DOES have that ability?”
It’s a simple concept. Managers are trained to listen to employees, heed their concerns, and diffuse the situation to maintain the status quo. Basically, they ignore you while making it seem like you two are on the same side.
Yet, when you pry a little further, they may start to enact your changes more. From a managerial perspective, they don’t want one of their employees going over their head, as it makes them look weak. So, by asking who is explicitly responsible, you can flex your muscles a bit at them. If your manager doesn’t respond to this well, then that’s fine. If you think your idea or solution is worth exploring, email their manager. Then, their boss’s boss, and so on.
In other words, your voice and ideas shouldn’t have to be filtered through your manager.
Note: If you are going to go this route, do your research. Have multiple data to back up your claims. How’s it going to save the company money? Give them a dollar amount to think of. If you can’t back up that claim, then the company may actually tell you to “fuck off.”
‘Could I Please Have That In An Email?’
Honestly, this could be my favorite. There is nothing more rattling to your supervisor than asking for written confirmation about a policy change or a new working method. It basically checks their power, right?
All too often, managers get complicit with their power structure. They got told what to do, now it’s their turn to tell you what to do. But, we need to break that mold of ‘your job is what I say it is.’
That’s how forced labor works.
Think of it like the fraternity hazing debate. 95% of the population knows it’s wrong, but those that were hazed soon became the ones to do the hazing. For example, one of my old bosses decided that we would not get a bonus that year (despite hitting our sales goal) because she never got a bonus when she was in that role. Ipso fuck-o, we were pretty pissed off.
And I would never say this to her face, but… fuck you, Ashley.
Thus, to prevent any further miscommunications in the future, I started asking for any policy changes in an email. Therefore, my manager’s power was checked, and if she genuinely thought she would get away with the ‘he said, she said’ game, I was fully prepared. And during all this scrupulous documentation, I realized what I was creating: a CYA (cover your ass) folder.
So, how does it work? Well, it’s simple. Any changes to workflow, policy, and responsibilities should be documented in a digital or physical folder. You are literally stockpiling evidence to cover your ass.
And it’s not just policy changes within the CYA folder. You can even keep a detailed work schedule. Supervisors often complain about worker efficiency, as they tend to focus on day-to-day activities. So, by creating a particular plan in a notebook, you can show how your time is utilized, especially if you have a manager that likes to bring up little things.
If you want to take it a step further, you can log and categorize your work tasks into a spreadsheet. That way, you can always quantify your efficiency to your manager and ask: “when would you like me to do that?”
You can prove to them that your day is already jam-packed full of tasks, and if they want you to complete a new one, they are going to have to reprioritize.
Put the responsibility back onto them.
Now, I know what you may be thinking: this is dangerously close to blackmail. And I guess if you have no moral standing, sure, it could be used as blackmail. But, the primary purpose of a CYA folder is to cover your ass if your boss throws you under the bus. You then won’t have a problem gathering the proper information to prove your point.
‘How’s Your Day Going?’
Simple, yet effective.
Sometimes, your manager may come storming down to your desk, ready to unleash a fury that hell would not be prepared for. No matter how harsh and hot they come in, learn to keep your composure and ask: “how’s your day going?”
You have to remember that their job is not less stressful; they also have a manager who doesn’t listen to them. As the power structure is so ingrained, they use their employees as scapegoats for their performance. It’s natural, and everyone does it. So, when that fiery rage comes power-walking down the cubicle aisle, keep your composure.
This question can be interchanged with many other ones. Still, the fundamental trick here is quickly shifting the subject matter onto the boss’s emotions.
It’s exactly like how I trained my Pomeranian to not bark at cars. It’s in their blood to lunge, they instinctively bark, but with a quick snap of the leash, their brains snap back into reality. It shifts their bodies away from their instincts, and soon enough, they learn not to bark at cars.
By simply asking your boss — “how is your day going?” — you’re training them not to be a d-bag when they approach you. Your conversations will start off more solution-oriented, and negative emotions will be kept to a minimum.
Final Note About Telling Your Boss To ‘Fuck Off’
I know that we’ve all had situations at the office where we would have loved to tell our boss to ‘fuck off and never talk to me again.’
But, being an upstanding employee, you just let their detrimental behavior slide for the time being.
It’s time to shift the power dynamic in the office. Take control of your own career and stop being treated like another cog in the machine.
You should express your opinions, cover your ass, and show some damn initiative. In that case, any good manager wouldn’t mind if you told them to ‘fuck off’ every so often.
Although, I suggest you do it a bit more politely, as I just outlined above.