Career Coach Explains Why You Should Never Tell Your Boss That You're Unhappy

Protect yourself at all costs.

co-workers talking fauxels / Pexels 

For workers in the U.S., our jobs are a major contributor to how we feel about our lives overall. We commit most of our waking hours to the work we do, so if we’re not fulfilled by our jobs, there’s a good chance we’re not happy, in general.

Yet, no matter how we feel, there are valid reasons not to let anyone at work know the truth.

A career coach explained why you should never tell your boss that you’re unhappy.

Dilara Casey offers insight into how employees can make the most of their careers. She shared a crucial piece of advice with her followers: “If your boss asks you if you’re unhappy, do not say yes.”




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“Even if you’re unhappy, don’t tell them you’re unhappy,” she said. “Especially if the reason why you’re unhappy is because your boss is a poor manager. Do not disclose that with them, do not share that with them, do not give them that type of feedback.”


According to Casey, letting your boss know the depths of your discontent is the definition of risky business. 

She described a scenario that she’s seen “too many times” in her role as a career coach, saying, “I have seen this backfire with clients of mine, where their boss has asked them if they’re unhappy and the client says, ‘Yes, I’m unhappy. I am looking for you to do XYZ for me.’”

"If that boss doesn’t have great training, which nine times out of 10, they don’t — a lot of people get promoted to manager positions because they’re good individual contributors, not because they’re good leaders,” she explained.  

“So, if that boss gets that kind of feedback, if they feel personally attacked, they’re not gonna change their style, they’re not gonna change their way.”

Career Coach Explains Why You Should Never Tell Your Boss That You're UnhappyPhoto: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels 


“They’re gonna change the problem, which, in their perspective, is you,” Casey declared. “So, if your boss asks if you’re unhappy, and the reason why you’re unhappy is because they’re not being the manager that you need, don’t share that information with them.”

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“Instead, share that information with HR first. Get it documented. Get it put on paper with a third party in your organization, like HR, and tell them why you’re struggling and where you’re seeing challenges first.”

Casey touched on ways certain bosses internalize employee feedback, saying, “I have seen poor managers get feedback that they’re not being effective from their team members, and instead of them growing and being better and learning, they just get rid of the team members that are criticizing their abilities.”


Many people shared that they aren't comfortable being open with HR about how they feel at work.

“HR just tells your boss,” noted one person. “HR will set you up to be fired,” said someone else. “HR’s job is to protect the company’s choices and to stand by the manager.”

Casey made a follow-up post that addressed the comments she received, explaining that she was revisiting her own advice and making some amendments. She reiterated her original point, which was not to tell your boss that you’re unhappy, then delved deeper into the issue of going to HR.



“I think the role that HR plays in your organization is really dependent on your organization,” she said.


“If it’s a small family-owned company where the HR director is the wife of the husband who’s the owner, I would not go to HR,” she continued. “If it’s a start-up where a super inexperienced person is running the HR team and doesn’t understand confidentiality and have a good moral compass, I would not go to HR.”

Career Coach Explains Why You Should Never Tell Your Boss That You're UnhappyPhoto: Edmond Dantes / Pexels 

“If your company has a history of putting a target on someone’s back after they complain, I would not go to HR,” she said. “I would not go to HR if your manager is BFFs with the person in HR. So, that advice I gave is not a blanket statement. There are going to be nuances to everyone’s situation.”


“It seems like a lot of you have those nuances,” she concluded before saying once more not to tell your manager if you’re unhappy. “If your HR team does not seem like they are out for your best interest, do not go to your HR team. Instead, I would probably just start looking for a new job.”

“The bottom line is," Casey added, "if your boss asks if you’re unhappy, there is a very good chance that they think you are, and they’re trying to figure out how much longer you’re gonna stay around and whether or not they want you to leave on your own or if they want to force you out,” she said. 

It’s unfortunate that office politics can have such a strong hold on workers’ livelihoods, yet by learning the intricacies of your company’s culture, you can make the best decisions for yourself based on what you determine is safe.


Casey’s guidance comes from a place of wanting people to protect themselves at work, which can be achieved by keeping clear boundaries and holding your cards close to your chest.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.