5 things NEVER to ask your boss

Like snowflakes, every boss you have will be different from the one before and the one after. And the way you converse with each will naturally have to be adjusted.

"For example, some bosses never want to hear criticism, while others will end up letting you go if you if you don't challenge them enough. Some bosses never want to hear about your personal life, while others don't feel comfortable unless their direct reports are 'friends,'" says Charles Purdy, senior editor at Monster.com.

But no matter what your relationship is like, there are some things you should never, ever say to your superior. Here are 5 to remember:

"My daughter is selling Girl Scout cookies. Would you like to buy some?"

Your boss probably loves Thin Mints just as much as you do. That doesn't mean he should be solicited as a potential customer for your pint-sized salesman, says HR consultant Tiffani Murray, author of Stuck on Stupid: A Guide for Today's Professional Stuck in a Rut. "Perhaps they will think that the employee will 'return the favor' by working harder, staying late or picking up the slack when needed in exchange for the purchase of that box of Thin Mints," says Murray. Of course, if your boss politely refuses, you might resent it -- or feel embarrassed for asking.

4 things a manager should never say
4 things never to share with HR
5 things you should never say in a job interview

"I think so-and-so is out to get me. Don't you?"

Most personality conflicts need to be handled by the individuals involved. "Your boss doesn't want to be a playground monitor," says Purdy. If the conflict is affecting aspects of a project, bring those specific issues to your boss, instead of a vague suspicion that someone wants to make you look bad. At best, it'll make you look insecure. At worst, you'll look paranoid.

"Is it okay if I take a personal day because my grandmother died?"

If this is not true, don't say it. Elaborate sick day excuses are a big risk in the world of Twitter and Facebook, says Purdy: "It's more and more dangerous, in our increasingly connected world, to 'play hooky' from work by telling your boss you're sick or that you have a funeral to attend. If you are at all social-networked, it's too easy to find out the truth."

"Does it really matter if this gets done?"

If you ask if you're being given busy work, you're questioning the judgement of your boss. "A better question is 'Where should this fall on my list of priorities?' In this way, if it is less important the boss will convey that as he or she ranks your to-do list," says Murray.

"If you don't _____, I'll quit. Understand?"

Ultimatums don't work well for many relationships, whether it be a marriage or a work partnership. "You can lay out what you need to your boss, but ultimatums leave out the room for compromise. Even if you get what you asked for, you'll be seen as an untrustworthy employee from now on," says Purdy. Leave the "Q-word" out of the conversation--unless you truly are ready to walk.

  • Amy Levin-Epstein On Twitter»

    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

Comments