Things Your Boss Should Never Say to You: Workplace Taboos

Things Your Boss Should Never Say to You

Table of Contents

Imagine starting your workday with a warm cup of coffee in hand, ready to take things your boss and good leader and tackle the tasks ahead, when your good manager or a very good leader or boss, suddenly says something inappropriate, dismissive, or outright offensive.

Such comments can shatter your confidence, ruin your day, and even affect your long-term career growth. The dynamic between a good boss, and an employee is a vital part of workplace culture.

Effective communication builds trust, fosters collaboration, and enhances overall productivity. But what happens when the boundaries of professional communication are crossed? What are the “things those things your boss should never say to you about,” and how should you respond?

This blog post aims to address these questions, providing insights into professional boundaries, guidance on recognizing improper communication, and the best course, offering actionable advice on handling uncomfortable situations.

Key Points:

  • Inappropriate comments from a boss can impact confidence and career growth.

  • Effective communication is vital for trust and collaboration.

  • Understanding and handling improper communication is essential.

Inappropriate Comments and Why They Matter

Inappropriate Comments and Why They Matter

The Impact of Improper Communication

Communication is the backbone of any organization. When it breaks down, the entire workplace culture can suffer. The degradation often starts with something as insidious as disrespectful remarks. Statements like “You’re just not smart enough for this task” can create a hostile work environment where employees feel belittled and undervalued. The damage doesn’t stop there.

Miscommunications tainted with gender or racial bias are more than just hurtful; they reinforce harmful stereotypes and discrimination. No matter what your job description when a colleague hears, “You wouldn’t understand; it’s a man’s job,” it can foster a culture where certain voices are marginalized or silenced.

Unfortunately, improper communication doesn’t end with disrespectful remarks and bias. Personal attacks that focus more on the individual than on their work can ruin professional relationships and fracture team cohesion. An accusation such as “You’re always so lazy and unmotivated” does nothing to address the underlying work issue and serves only to alienate and insult.

These kinds of comments, whether they’re disrespectful remarks, gender or racial biases, or personal attacks, are not just inappropriate; they can disrupt the work environment and lead to negativity and legal issues. Together, they form a corrosive mixture that can erode trust, collaboration, and success within a workplace.

The importance and benefit of fostering good leaders and proper communication between leaders co workers and managers, therefore, cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts the harmony and productivity of the organization.

Key Points:

  • Disrespectful remarks, gender or racial bias, and personal attacks are inappropriate.

  • Such comments can disrupt the work environment and lead to negativity and legal issues.

How to Respond

How to Respond

Strategies for Handling Inappropriate Comments

Handling inappropriate comments is a complex and sensitive issue, but knowing how to respond to these remarks is essential for maintaining your self-respect and workplace integrity. It often starts with a personal initiative.

If the conversation made you feel comfortable, you might choose to speak up and address the boss’ comment privately with your manager or boss. Using “I” statements to express how the boss’ comment made you feel can be a powerful way to communicate and explain your position and perspective without escalating the situation. This approach encourages dialogue and conversation and helps foster understanding.

However, speaking to your boss may not always resolve the issue. In some cases, it might be necessary to seek help from HR. Documenting the incidents with specific details, including dates, times, and witnesses if possible, can be instrumental in providing clear evidence of the problem. This record-keeping ensures that the issue is taken seriously and handled with the appropriate care and attention.

Beyond addressing the situation with your boss’s supervisor or HR, it’s also crucial to practice self-care. Recognizing that you feel guilty and the inappropriate comments are not a reflection of your worth is a vital step in protecting your mental and emotional well-being. Seeking support from friends, family, or professional counseling if needed can make a significant difference in your overall health and resilience.

In summary, responding to inappropriate comments requires a multifaceted approach that might include speaking up, seeking help from HR, and practicing self-care.

Addressing the issue directly with the person involved or through the proper channels within the organization, documenting incidents, and prioritizing personal well-being are key strategies in maintaining your integrity and positivite personality traits in the face of workplace negativity.

It’s a complex but essential part of professional and personal life, and these strategies equip you to handle and deal with such challenges with grace and strength.

Key Points:

  • Responding to inappropriate comments requires speaking up, seeking help, or practicing self-care.

  • Addressing the issue directly or through HR, documenting incidents, and prioritizing well-being are key strategies.

Tools and Resources

Tools and Resources

Software Tools for Workplace Harmony

Here now what are new ideas for some tools that can foster a positive and respectful work environment:


Encourages transparent communication among team members.

  • Channels and Direct Messaging: Slack offers channels where team members can communicate openly. It also enables private conversations, allowing for more candid feedback and discussions.

  • Integration: It integrates with many other tools like Google Drive, Trello, and Zoom, promoting seamless collaboration.

  • Customization: Teams can create custom channels for different topics, ensuring that conversations are focused and respectful.

  • Security: With robust security features, it ensures that sensitive conversations remain private.

Key Points:

  • Facilitates open communication and collaboration.

  • Integrates with various tools for seamless workflow.

  • Custom channels and robust security enhance the respectful exchange of ideas.


15Five is a performance management tool designed to enhance communication between managers and employees. It facilitates regular feedback and enhances manager-employee relationships.

  • Regular Check-ins: Facilitates regular one-on-one check-ins between employees and managers, encouraging open dialogue.

  • Feedback Loop: Allows for both upward and peer-to-peer feedback, ensuring that all voices are heard.

  • Goal Setting and Tracking: Helps in setting clear and aligned goals, promoting a positive work environment where everyone knows their objectives.

  • Employee Recognition: Features like “High Fives” allow team members to recognize each other’s efforts, boosting morale.

Key Points:

  • Enhances manager-employee communication.

  • Fosters a culture of feedback and recognition.

  • Helps in aligning goals and tracking performance.


Headspace is an app focused on mindfulness and mental well-being. It offers mindfulness exercises for stress relief and emotional well-being.

  • Meditation and Mindfulness Practices: Offers guided meditations and exercises to reduce stress and enhance focus.

  • Corporate Programs: Provides workplace-specific programs to promote well-being among employees.

  • Mental Health Support: It can be a valuable tool for supporting employees’ mental health, a key factor in creating a respectful and supportive work environment.

  • Custom Plans: Organizations can create custom plans tailored to their specific needs and goals, emphasizing different aspects like stress reduction, sleep improvement, or focus enhancement.

Key Points:

  • Offers meditation and mindfulness practices for individual well-being.

  • Corporate programs can be tailored to promote a positive work environment.

  • Supports mental health, contributing to a respectful and compassionate workplace.


DiversityBuilder offers training and resources to build a diverse workplace, it focuses on cultivating diversity and inclusion within organizations.

  • Training Programs: Offers customizable training on diversity, inclusion, unconscious bias, and harassment prevention.

  • Consulting Services: Provides guidance on building inclusive workplace policies and procedures.

  • Assessment and Surveys: Helps in evaluating the current state of diversity and inclusion within the organization, paving the way for informed improvements.

  • Resources: Offers resources such as articles, videos, and webinars to educate employees and leadership on diversity topics.

Key Points:

  • Tailored training and consulting to promote diversity and inclusion.

  • Assessments to gauge current practices and areas for improvement.

  • Resources for ongoing education and awareness.


Tinypulse is an employee feedback and recognition platform designed to foster open communication.

  • Anonymous Surveys: Allows employees to provide candid feedback without fear of retaliation.

  • Performance Reviews: Facilitates continuous performance reviews, promoting a constructive feedback culture.

  • Recognition Tools: Features peer recognition tools to celebrate accomplishments and boost morale.

  • Integration: Seamlessly integrates with other tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams to encourage regular feedback and recognition.

Key Points:

  • Enables anonymous and candid feedback.

  • Continuous performance reviews foster a growth mindset.

  • Peer recognition tools enhance team spirit and positivity.

Lyra Health

Lyra Health provides mental health support and resources for managers and employees, prioritizing well-being in the workplace.

  • Mental Health Solutions: Offers therapy, coaching, and self-care tools to support employees’ mental health.

  • Customized Programs: Provides personalized mental health solutions tailored to the specific needs and goals of an organization.

  • Stigma Reduction: Focuses on creating a stigma-free environment where mental health is openly discussed and supported.

  • Data-Driven Approach: Uses analytics to track the success of mental health initiatives, ensuring that programs are effective in meeting employees’ needs.

Key Points:

  • Comprehensive mental health solutions including therapy, coaching, and self-care.

  • Personalized programs designed to meet organizational needs.

  • Emphasizes a stigma-free environment, encouraging open discussion and support.


  • Tools like Slack, 15Five, Headspace, DiversityBuilder, Tinypulse, and Lyra Health can foster positive communication, facilitate diversity, open communication, and well-being.

  • Implementing these tools can contribute to a respectful work environment.

  • Utilizing these tools can significantly contribute to a healthy and respectful workplace.

Recognizing the Subtleties of Inappropriate Comments

Recognizing the Subtleties of Inappropriate Comments

Inappropriate comments in the workplace don’t always come in the form of blatant insults or discrimination. Sometimes, they can be subtle and masked as jokes or casual remarks. Recognizing these subtleties is the first step towards addressing the issue. Among these are microaggressions, which often present themselves in the most inconspicuous ways but can have a profound impact on the workplace environment.

Microaggressions in the Workplace

What Are Microaggressions?

Inappropriate comments in the workplace don’t always come in the form of blatant insults or discrimination. Sometimes, they can be subtle and masked as jokes or casual remarks. Recognizing these subtleties is the first step towards addressing the issue. Among these are microaggressions, which often present themselves in the most inconspicuous ways but can have a profound impact on the workplace environment.

Impact of Microaggressions

The impact of microaggressions goes far beyond the immediate discomfort they might cause. Over time, they can create an unwelcoming environment where affected employees feel marginalized or stereotyped. This alienation can lead to mental health issues and decreased productivity, harming both the individual and the organization as a whole.

Addressing Microaggressions

Addressing microaggressions requires a concerted effort to promote awareness through training and open communication. Education about what microaggressions are and why they are harmful can foster a more understanding and respectful workplace culture. Encouraging employees to speak up and support one another can make a significant difference in creating a more inclusive environment.

In summary, microaggressions may appear subtle, but they are insidiously harmful. They can create unwelcome environments that affect individuals’ mental well-being and productivity. Awareness, education, and open communication are essential tools in recognizing and addressing these hidden forms of bias, fostering a more inclusive and respectful workplace for all.

Key Points:

  • Microaggressions are subtle but harmful.

  • Awareness and open communication are essential to address them.

The Fine Line Between Jokes and Offense

Humor in the Workplace

Humor is often seen as a vital aspect of a healthy workplace culture. A well-timed joke can break the ice, relieve stress, and foster camaraderie among colleagues. But there’s a fine line that needs to be observed. While humor can be positive, it must be respectful and considerate of everyone’s feelings and backgrounds. Jokes about race, gender, personal attributes, or any sensitive topics can quickly cross that line, transforming what might have been intended as light-hearted banter into something offensive. The difference between a joke that uplifts and one that offends may be subtle, but it’s crucial. It is often the context, content, and the shared understanding of boundaries within a team that defines whether humor enriches or erodes the work environment.

Handling Offensive Jokes

Dealing with offensive jokes is a delicate but essential part of maintaining a respectful workplace. It requires individuals to be assertive and express that the joke was not a great idea and was not appropriate. This can be done privately or publicly, depending on the situation and comfort level. The key is to communicate the discomfort without escalating the situation unnecessarily. Additionally, leadership and team members should encourage a culture where such jokes are not tolerated. This might include clear guidelines, regular training, or even casual discussions about what constitutes appropriate humor. It’s about creating a space where humor thrives but within the bounds of respect and empathy.

In summary, humor plays an important role in the workplace, for example by acting as a bridge between colleagues and managers and easing the daily grind. However, it must be handled with care, recognizing the fine line between jokes and words that connect and those that offend. Being mindful of this line, being assertive when it’s crossed, and encouraging a culture that values respect can ensure that humor remains a positive force within the workplace.

Key Points:

  • Jokes need to be handled with care.

  • Being assertive and promoting respectful humor can prevent offensive jokes.

Creating a Culture of Respect and Open Communication

Creating a Culture of Respect and Open Communication

A workplace that thrives on respect and open communication doesn’t just magically appear; it of course requires conscious effort, ongoing commitment, and leadership that sets the tone for the office and entire organization. The way this culture is cultivated can be explored through two key areas: the role of leadership and the creation of a diverse and inclusive office environment.

The Role of Leadership

Setting the Tone

Leaders within an organization must model the respectful behavior they expect from their team. They set the tone not just through their words but their actions, creating an environment where respect and empathy are the norm. This includes establishing clear policies that guide conduct and set expectations for everyone within the organization. Such guidelines make it clear what is considered acceptable behavior and what is not, offering a framework for a respectful workplace.

Encouraging Open Dialogue

Encouraging open dialogue goes hand-in-hand with modeling respect. Best leaders should actively encourage employees to voice their concerns, ideas, and feelings. Regular check-ins and open-door policies foster trust and assure employees that their opinions are valued. This commitment to open dialogue helps to keep employee engagement and create a culture where issues can be addressed constructively and collaboratively, reinforcing a positive and transparent work environment.

Key Points:

  • Leadership plays a vital role in shaping culture.

  • Modeling respect and encouraging open dialogue are crucial.

Building a Diverse and Inclusive Environment

Importance of Diversity

A diverse workforce isn’t just a moral or legal obligation; it’s a competitive advantage. It brings varied perspectives, creativity, and innovation, making the organization more adaptable and vibrant. Inclusion takes this a step further, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their background, feels valued, heard, and part of the team. Together, diversity and inclusion create a culture where differences are celebrated rather than tolerated, fostering a more dynamic and engaged workplace.

Strategies for Diversity and Inclusion

Creating such a culture requires actionable strategies. This might include implementing diversity hiring practices to ensure that the workforce is representative many employees of different backgrounds and perspectives. It also requires regular training and support to foster an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome and appreciated. Leadership must be active in supporting these practices, continually assessing and adjusting as necessary to ensure that the top leader and commitment to diversity and inclusion remains a living part of the organization’s culture.

In summary, creating a culture of respect and open communication is a multifaceted process. Leadership plays a vital role, effective leaders setting the tone through their behavior and encouraging open dialogue. Building a diverse and inclusive environment enhances this culture, making it more dynamic, creative, and engaging. It’s a continuous effort that requires dedication and vigilance from great leaders, but the rewards are immense, reflecting in a workplace where everyone feels valued and empowered.

Key Points:

  • Diversity and inclusion enhance creativity and collaboration.

  • Conscious strategies are needed to foster a diverse and inclusive environment.



What if my boss doesn’t realize they’re being inappropriate?

Address and discuss or explain or discuss the issue privately, expressing how the comment made you feel.

Can I report my boss to HR anonymously?

Yes, most companies have policies allowing anonymous reporting.

What if HR doesn’t take my complaint seriously?

Consider seeking legal advice or support from a workplace rights organization.

How can I maintain a professional relationship after addressing the issue?

Clear communication, mutual respect, and possibly involving a mediator can help.

What are some examples of gender bias?

Comments that stereotype roles based on expertise and on gender, like “Women don’t excel in technical roles.”

How can I recognize racial bias?

Racial bias may manifest through stereotypes, assumptions, or dismissive comments about a person or race.

How should I document incidents?

Write down the details, including dates, times, witnesses, and how the incident made you feel.

How can my company foster a more respectful environment?

Promote open communication, good management, diversity training, employee retention, and clear policies on workplace behavior. Pay attention to body language. Words aren’t our only communication medium. While leaders should offer guidance and leadership, they may not always have the answers and should learn to lean on their direct reports for their expertise

How can I support a coworker who is experiencing this?

Offer empathy, encourage them to address and discuss the issue, provide assistance, and be willing to talk and be a witness if needed.

What are the legal implications of inappropriate comments?

In some cases, it may constitute harassment, leading to legal repercussions.



Navigating inappropriate comments and fostering a culture of respect is a complex yet crucial aspect of modern workplace dynamics. It goes beyond recognizing blatant offenses to understanding subtle microaggressions, the fine line between jokes and offense, the role of leadership, and the importance of diversity and inclusion. By utilizing best practices and leveraging the right tools, we can create work environments where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to achieve their best. It’s not just about avoiding what shouldn’t be said, but promoting what should be said and done. By a leader understanding what they should never say to your employees, they can become a more effective leader.

Key Points:

  • Recognizing and addressing inappropriate comments is crucial for workplace harmony.

  • Emphasizing respect, empathy, and open communication helps build a positive workplace culture.

  • Tools and strategies are available to help individuals and organizations create a supportive environment.

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