By Amy Shearn
<strong>"At this moment, I can tell by your eyes that you want to quit, and I also want to fire you, but let's let this moment pass and see what happens tomorrow." </strong> We all have our flickers of job frustration. Guess what? You're probably not as good at hiding your malaise as you think. Take a deep breath or 10, and don't say something you're going to regret.
<strong> "I, too, hate meetings."</strong> Yes, you have your boss's attention for a moment, and yes, you want to point out all the many millions of wonderful things you're working on and ask every single question that's occurred to you since the last meeting. But the meeting, let's assume, has a specific agenda, and proving that you are the model employee is not part of it. As Douglas Merrill, author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Organized-Google-Era-Stuff/dp/B008SLH62I"><em>Getting Organized in the Google Era</em></a>, wrote in <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/douglasmerrill/2012/11/20/is-this-meeting-necessary/">Forbes</a>, "I try to limit meetings to 30 minutes or less. It helps me and everyone else stay focused.... Besides, people tend to lose interest when meetings drag on." Don't be the meeting dragger.
<strong>"I'd miss you terribly, but you really should look for another job."</strong> You can do this job, but it might not be the best one for you. Maybe your boss loves you but sees that you're in a dead-end position, and she can't promote you. Or maybe she sees that you should be somewhere better suited to your talents. The copy desk supervisor at a major publication told me: "I've certainly known people who worked for me who were smart and good journalists who, nevertheless, didn't have the particular weird skill set they needed to be good copy editors. And yeah, it would have been nice to be able to say that instead of engaging in a mutually frustrating struggle to get them up to speed." And how wonderful if these floundering staffers moved to a job where they could do their best work.
<strong>"I'm begging you to take a breath."</strong> "The number-one thing that I think all day long every day is, 'If you think about it for a minute, you will realize that you already know,'" says Siobhan Adcock, executive editor at <a href="http://www.epicurious.com/">Epicurious.com</a>. "That is the answer to about 95 percent of the questions I am asked. What I want more than anything is for the people who report to me to feel like they can independently problem-solve."
<strong>"It's not that I don't care. I just don't care to hear about it."</strong> To paraphrase the great <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0_qbtLnsVI">"Free To Be... You and Me" song:</a> Bosses are people, people with feelings. Your boss probably does have a lot of empathy for you and the horrible thing going on in your personal life. But your boss has a job, too, and it's not to cry with you in the bathroom. Your job still needs to get done even when you're too distracted to do it. (It's possible that your boss can help you work through your distraction if you are able to articulate what would make it easier for you.)
<strong>"I'm under all kinds of pressures you don't even know about because I protect them from you, so give me a break if occasionally I'm short with you." </strong> A former excellent (no, I'm not brownnosing) boss of mine told me, "Employees who do well are ones who try to understand the whole picture. Some people take decisions personally when, in fact, the decision has nothing to do with individuals and is about furthering the health of the business overall. In other words, this is not about you." Here's an exercise in empathy: Imagine you were your boss. After mentally rearranging the stuff in her/your office, think about all the people she/you answer to and all the forces at play that her/your employees don't have to deal with. And be thankful that all you get is a snippy reply to something, rather than a chewing-out from the CEO.
<strong>"I wish I could pay you more."</strong> There's lots of advice out there on how to ask for a raise. <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5974807/how-to-get-anything-you-want-with-minimal-negotiation">Lifehacker.com editor Thorin Klosowski</a> suggests checking websites like <a href="http://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm">Glassdoor.com</a> or <a href="http://salary.com/">Salary.com</a> to get an idea of comparable salaries, giving you some leverage when you talk to your boss. But, <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5974807/how-to-get-anything-you-want-with-minimal-negotiation">as Klosowski also writes</a>, sometimes you find yourself in a "salary negotiation where your employer isn't able to give you more money. If you can't get more money, you need to 'expand the pie' by offering up alternatives to a raise... [and] think of other perks you can ask for that don't require money. This might include working from home for a few days, extra vacation time, shorter hours or any other 'free' perks you might want." Just remember that in these economic times it's often not your boss's fault, and that if you've been working hard and doing your job well, she may well be able to offer some other incentive.
<strong>"I really would prefer that you not blame people under you."</strong> A vice president at a large media company told me that she often wishes she could say to employees: "We all want to work with positive, happy people.... Complaining will get you nowhere." Throwing your coworkers under the bus just makes you look like, well, the kind of person who throws her coworkers under the bus.
<strong>"I'm not setting you up to fail."</strong> There's something simultaneously thrilling and horrifying about feeling that you're in way over your head. Jeremy Chernick, a special effects designer and creator who works primarily in live performance for <a href="http://www.jmfx.net/">J&M Special Effects</a>, told me that newer employees often believe that he or a client, director or designer is making (seemingly) unreasonable demands. But, he says, after years in the business, he knows what they don't: "The project will be done. Everyone will work together. I personally will take responsibility for the work and protect them so long as they keep up the good work to protect us all." If you're all killing yourselves on a project together, unless your boss is exceptionally (and counterproductively) mean-spirited, he is invested in not having it (or you) fail.
Earlier on HuffPost:
As a token of gratitude when he sold the company earlier this year, Howard Cooper of Howard Cooper Import Center gave each of his 89 employees <a href="http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/howard-cooper-gives-thousands-of-dollars-to-his-89-employees-as-dealership-transitions-ownership/" target="_hplink">$1,000 for every year they worked</a> for him.
Bart Lorang, the CEO software provider company FullContact, offered his employees $7,500 to go on vacation. Then he made them promise not to work while on vacation: "no calls, no emails, no tweets, no work of any kind," <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/07/boss-gives-employees-7500-for-vacations/" target="_hplink">Lorang told ABC News</a>.
BMI Elite CEO Brandon Rosen and company president Dan Lansman gave one lucky employee a new car this year. "I love taking care of our employees and showing them that we really care about all the hard work they do for us," <a href="http://www.wpbf.com/news/south-florida/Palm-Beach-County-News/Employee-at-Delray-Beach-company-rewarded-for-hard-work-with-new-car/-/8815578/17606298/-/7sksjez/-/index.html" target="_hplink">Rosen told WPBF</a>.
Geoff Grenda, owner of Grenda Corp., gave his employees $16 million in bonuses after Grenda sold the company this year. "We sat down and thought: 'how can we thank the people that have got us to where we're going to end up?' And it was a fairly easy decision for us," <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57369402/aussie-bus-boss-wows-staff-with-$16m-in-bonuses/" target="_hplink">Grenda told Nine Network television, CBS reports</a>.
Joe Lueken <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/26/joe-lueken-grocer-gives-comapny-to-employees_n_2192038.html" target="_hplink">gave his grocery store to his employees</a> through the Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) when he retired in November.