How to communicate with your boss effectively

How to communicate with your boss effectively

Every day, we have many people we need to communicate with: our partner, our child’s teacher, our friends, and the cashier at the store, among others. However, there is one person who your communication will affect your bottom line. That person is your boss.

So how do you communicate effectively with this person who exercises direct control over your paycheck? Here are ten tips that will help you feel more confident next time you encounter your boss.

1. Watch how the boss communicates with you. Does the boss prefer to use email, phone, or direct contact with employees? Follow her example. If she prefers to email you about small issues, then follow suit. If important issues, such as those involving large amounts of money are usually discussed in person, then do likewise. Do be aware that all emails that you send should be composed using correct spelling and grammar. You are always making an impression, even when she can’t see your face and well-groomed hair!

2. Make sure that your timing is good. If you need to communicate that the mail carrier has already stopped by today, then it is probably okay to do so when your boss has one foot out the door on her way to a meeting. If you need to discuss a performance review, make sure that it takes place at a time when your boss is in a pleasant mood and is not overly rushed.

3. Be prepared. Whether it is in a large meeting or a simple one on one conversation, make sure that your communication is accurate, and if necessary, backed up by the appropriate documentation. You don’t want to inadvertently give incorrect off-the-cuff information. If you are not sure if your information is accurate, it is best not to say anything, or to say that you will get back to her at a specific time with the necessary information.

4. Consider the boss’s perspective. It is good in any circumstance to consider the other person’s perspective. In the case of your boss, she is more concerned with the company’s bottom line than with your need to repair your car. So when you are asking for a raise, for example, make sure that you are communicating what you contribute to the company, not your own financial insecurities.

5. Look at how the most effective office players communicate with the boss. Do they do so informally, or do they make appointments? If you observe that your boss enjoys making conversation by the water cooler about the latest in digital camera technology, then by all means join in. If they make appointments with the secretary to speak to the boss, then it is a good idea for you to do the same.

6. Be aware of your body language. Standing with your head down communicates a lack of confidence. Holding your arms crossed in front of your body demonstrates a lack of openness. Putting your hands on your hips can seem aggressive. Hold your body in a relaxed manner, while maintaining eye contact. Try resting one hand on a desk, putting a hand in your pocket, or using your hands to take notes.

7. Maintain control of the conversation. When communicating with your boss, it is not a good idea to show too much emotion, unless it is enthusiasm or conviction. If you hear your boss making statements that you find upsetting, listen, and nod your head. Keep calm. When there is a break in the conversation, quietly make your point. Be sure not to raise your voice or interrupt, as both of these actions give the impression that you are not in control of your emotions.

8. Find out about your boss. The more common interests you have with someone, the easier communication becomes. Find out if your boss has children the same age as yours, if she likes soccer, is involved in community organizations that you have an interest in; in short, try to find some common ground. When you find yourself in casual conversation with your boss, listen. Everyone enjoys talking about themselves and their interests.

9. Focus on the positive. There are many negative aspects to any job. When communicating with your boss, be sure to focus on the positive aspects. This is true even if you are holding a meeting to address an issue that is potentially loaded with negativity. Accentuating the positive tends to put your boss more at ease. Above all, never react to any statements in a hostile manner. While you are certainly entitled to hostile feelings, allowing hostility to come out during a conversation with your boss will never serve your best interests.

10. Ask questions. Don’t assume that your boss will think that you are unintelligent if you need clarification on an issue. You might need to repeat back instructions to your boss to ensure that you understand correctly what her expectations are. This is an excellent way to avoid awkward communications in the future.

Communicating with your boss may be tricky at times, but if you keep your cool and follow these basic tenets of workplace communication, then you will be at your most effective, and success will follow!


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