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SUCCESS KILLERS - the ten responses that can crater your career.

In 2020 Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed it’s “not my job” to keep his fringe players happy; “it’s “up to them to be fit and be ready when called upon”. He was sacked by the club a year later.

In 2013, a customer service representative at Bank of America was recorded telling a customer, "That's not my job," when the customer asked for assistance with an issue. The recording went viral, causing significant damage to the bank's reputation.

In 2016, a United Airlines employee told a passenger, "That's not my job," when the passenger asked for assistance after missing a flight. The incident was captured on video and shared widely on social media, leading to a significant public relations crisis for the airline.

In 2018, a Starbucks employee was filmed telling a customer, "That's not my job," when the customer asked for a straw for their drink. The video was shared widely on social media, causing the company to face significant backlash and damage to its reputation.

In 2020, a security guard at a Walmart store was caught on video telling a shopper, "That's not my job," when the shopper asked him to enforce the store's mask mandate. The video was widely shared on social media, leading to negative publicity for the company.

In 2021, a popular fast-food chain employee was caught on video telling a customer, "That's not my job," when the customer asked for extra sauce. The video went viral on social media and led to a negative public perception of the brand.


“Not my job” has a notorious history. Some might even regard it as a form of a “curse.” Here are ten other phrases people often use to convey the same message

  • "I'm not getting paid enough to do that."

  • "I didn't sign up for this."

  • "Why should I have to do it? It's not fair."

  • "I'm too busy with my work to take on that."

  • "That's not in my job description; I’m not doing it."

  • "I'm not qualified to do that; you should find someone else."

  • "I'm not going to do it; it’s not my problem."

  • "I'm not going to do that; it’s not my responsibility."

  • "I don't care; find someone else to do it."

  • "I'm not going to waste my time with that."

Using any such statements can be short-sighted and reputationally damaging.


By knowing what to avoid, you can turn this to your advantage and boost your career prospects.

For example, a janitor at NASA named John Johnson Jr. helped develop the heat shield for the Apollo spacecraft.

Despite not being an engineer, Johnson significantly contributed to the Apollo project by using his knowledge and skills to solve a problem the engineers could not solve.

Suppose, like Johnson, you take the initiative and step outside your defined role to help in the situation. In that case, you may bring new perspectives and ideas, ultimately leading to positive results, including affecting your career prospects.

There have been many inspiring stories of people accepting that “it’s not my job" yet still helping.

  • In 2020, a grocery store employee in New York City named Deon Jones went above and beyond his duties by helping an elderly customer with her groceries and walking her home. He was praised for his kindness and willingness to help others.

  • In 2018, a flight attendant named Serena Cervantes received praise for her quick thinking and bravery when she helped a passenger who was having a seizure. Despite not being a medical professional, she helped the passenger until the plane landed and paramedics arrived.

  • In 2016, a bus driver in Utah named Matt Davis was hailed as a hero after he helped a woman who was stranded on the side of the road. He stopped his bus, got out, and helped her push her car to a nearby gas station, despite it not being his job.

These are just a few examples of people who went above and beyond their job duties to help others. They inspire and show that kindness and willingness to help can go a long way.


You’re busy at work when someone asks if you can help. Nothing too serious. But it means dropping what you’re doing right now. Being a dedicated worker, you’re focused on achieving your current goal.

So how do you avoid saying any of those killer phrases? Try using any of these.

  • "I'm happy to help; what do you need me to do?"

  • "I know this isn't part of my usual responsibilities. I'm happy to take it on if it means helping the team."

  • "I see this is important to the project’s overall success. I'll make sure to get it done."

  • "I'll do my best to assist, even though it's not directly part of my job description."

  • "I'll take care of it and ensure it's done right."

  • "I'll help, but can you agree that this becomes part of my role going forward?"

  • "I know this isn't my usual task, but I'll do what I can to help."

  • "I'm happy to help, and I would appreciate it if you could guide me on how to proceed."

  • "I'd be happy to take on this task, but I'd like to understand how it fits into the bigger picture."

  • "I'll be happy to help, but I want to ensure that this task is not taking away from my primary responsibilities."

These responses show that you know your role and responsibilities. However, you must ensure that the additional tasks don't get in the way of your main tasks.


Sometimes though, saying "not my job" may have some possible benefits, such as helping to

  • Clarify roles and responsibilities defining what is and isn't considered your responsibility may help prevent confusion and ensure that tasks are assigned to the appropriate person.

  • Increase efficiency - by focusing on your specific role and responsibilities, you can work more efficiently and effectively.

  • Achieve a better work-life balance - by not taking on tasks outside of your role; you may be able to protect your time and energy, leading to a better work-life balance.

  • Avoid burnout -taking on too many tasks or responsibilities can lead to burnout; saying "not my job" may help you set realistic boundaries to prevent this.

Done professionally and respectfully, resistance to going beyond your current role can be the starting point for a constructive discussion about how to grow and expand your job.


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