Information Technology Dark Side

Struggles of a Self-Taught Coder

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On Telling People They Suck…

March 19th, 2006 · 1 Comment

In my post About That Promotion… I advocated telling your boss he sucks. I even went so far as to say that you should also tell HIS boss the same thing.

Lest any of you misunderstand, I would like to clarify something. I am assuming two things in this blog: 1) that you have some common sense, and 2) that you have a sense of humor. That said, let me state what is obvious to me but may not be to anyone else:

You should probably not use the specific words “You Suck” when discussing performance issues. Not with your boss, not with his boss, and definitely not with your underlings (if you have any).

When I say “Tell him he sucks,” I am simply using that wording to convey the gist of what you should say, not the words he says. Here’s how you tell somebody they suck, without saying that word. I’m going to use the example from About That Promotion…, an associate software engineer expressing his disappointment about not being promoted after his first year in an exit interview.

You (the ASE): I’m very disappointed in you as a manager, to tell the truth.

Manager: Blah, blah, blah. (You might need to interrupt).

You: Let me tell you why. When I arrived here, you laid out the expectations that you had for me, and we discussed how meeting these expectations would result in my first promotion.


You: Listen, we both know that I met those expectations a long time ago and that I started asking about that promotion. And it hasn’t happened. I did my part, but you didn’t do yours.

Manager: What do you mean I didn’t do my part? I’ve been working on this promotion for you for four months now!

You: Look, don’t tell me about the bureaucracy in this place. I don’t really care about that. This is supposed to be one of your primary skills as a manager. If you can’t get a simple promotion through the process in this organization in a timely manager you’ve failed as far as I’m concerned.


You: Take it for what it’s worth. I’m not just disappointed in you. I’m also disappointed in the entire organization, and for good reason. I can’t sit around here waiting for the whole company to get its act together while better opportunities pass me by on the outside.

Okay, there are a thousand different ways to say that – this is just one example.

So, anytime I say “tell them they suck” in my blog, you’ll know what I mean, right?

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Tags: Job Advice

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Information Technology Dark Side » Blog Archive » The Forbidden Phrases // Aug 10, 2006 at 4:40 am

    […] Heck no. I’ve heard these words used at all levels of organizations I’ve worked in. I appreciate the organizations that discourage the use of profanity in general, because I don’t like it (especcially the eff bomb). I also prefer an environment where it’s generally okay to say that something sucks – like when the hard drive on your laptop dies at the worst possible time, I want to be able to say “Man, this sucks!”. And, as a general rule, I’ve found that I can. Of course, most places aren’t very tolerant of saying “Man, you suck,” as I’ve already acknowledged. […]

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