5 Tips on How to Communicate with Your Boss
By Guest Blogger Heather Matthews
Communication is a skill. This is not like other things in life that sit in a gray area, where there’s no right or wrong answer.
There actually is a wrong and a right way of speaking to people.
If you want your message to be clear and to be received well, you need to learn how to talk to people in the language that they would most understand.
You need to get in the mindset of your audience to be able to communicate clearly what you want. Don’t leave room for misunderstanding.
The workplace is a sensitive environment. You have subordinates, peers, clients, and of course the bosses. Most people know how to talk to the first three, but the last one is where it gets tricky.
Talking to your boss is intimidating simply because they outrank you and they sign your paychecks. Nobody wants to jeopardize that.
Add an intimidating personality to that and you’ve got employees afraid to speak their minds.
Here are some ways you can communicate effectively with your boss.
Tip #1 – Write it down
A good tip is to write down your speech. Prepare for it like you would a proposal.
Cover all your bases—try to anticipate all the questions he might ask. When you’ve figured out the details, that’s when you construct the padding.
You don’t need to suck up to him with compliments and such, but you do need to find the right kind and the right amount of fluff to go with your pitch.
If you’re trying to break bad news, you need to find the silver lining and present it to them instead of letting them search for it themselves.
Tip #2 – Honesty is your priority
Be upfront about what you want or need from your boss. There’s nothing they hate more than wasting time.
If your points aren’t clear and they don’t know what it is that you need from them, chances are, they won’t respond well to your request.
Be as direct as you can be and don’t leave room for misunderstanding. If there’s anything that wasn’t understood correctly, it’s going to be on you.
Learn to be direct without coming off as arrogant.
Tip #3 – Confidence helps
In line with Tip #2, you need to at least show that you’re confident in yourself.
Whatever it is you’re asking for, be it a promotion, a salary raise, or a role in a new project, you need to show that you deserve it and that you believe that 101%.
If you can’t be confident in yourself, how do you expect your boss to feel the same way?
Body language is important too, so stand or sit up straight, don’t mumble, don’t look down, dress the part, and look them straight in the eye and go for it.
Tip #4 – Timing is essential
While it may be true for some situations that the best time to do anything is now, it’s not always taken in the right context. There is such a thing as better timing.
If you’re going to bring up a sore topic or a sensitive issue with your boss, you need to consider if he’s been in a good mood lately—if his personal life is not in a wonky place as far as you know, if he has been happy with people’s performances at work, if he’s been generous with department budgets, etc.
Tip #5 – Be responsible and accountable
You’ve got to show them that you have what it takes to take lead, at whatever cost.
If somehow things blow up in your face, be the first one to admit where it went wrong and what your plan is to make up for it.
If things go right, be humble, but be the face he associates with that victory. Be the employee he hired you for.
Build a reputation for being reliable and he will be more than willing to give you more responsibilities and more chances to put you on the map.