How to communicate with your boss effectively

How to communicate with your boss effectively

Have you ever left a meeting with your manager feeling like they didn’t listen or didn’t understand what you needed?

One of the keys to a positive work environment is having a good employee-boss relationship. Successful relationships, both personal and professional, are built upon foundations that start with good communication skills. While there certainly are plenty of bad or unresponsive managers out there, often you can change the results you get by changing your approach.

The best way to communicate with your manager is by using the method they prefer.

If you learn that they’re always rushed on a Monday morning and they rarely check emails or rarely have time to talk unless you schedule a meeting, you need to pick the approach most likely to get what you need.

You might prefer writing lengthy reports, but if your boss prefers a one-page bulleted list or an in-person chat, your preferences will have to make way for theirs – at least if you want to increase your chances of a good outcome.

To be an efficient communicator, you must realise that communication is about the other person, not about you.

The first rule in communication is to be an active listener.

Instead of worrying about what you are going to say, pay attention and listen to what they say. Good listening skills help you understand and anticipate your manager’s needs. Have a notepad handy to take notes when you are given direction. By taking notes, you will remember more of the conversation.

While emotion does creep into the business environment, make it a point to keep emotion out of discussions you have with your boss. Practice using clear, concise and direct language when you communicate.

Maintain a professional tone and if you are communicating with your manager about a personal problem, a problem with a co-worker, or some other issue that causes you to feel emotional, wait until you are clear-headed before attempting communication.

Use qualifying words, such as “perhaps” and “maybe,” rather than absolute words, such as “always,” “every,” “all the time” and “never.”  Speaking in absolutes can raise defenses and cause resistance.

Just the thought of communicating with your manager can be enough to produce stress and anxiety.  However, with a little preparation and practice, you can be on your way to confident and effective communication.

Here are my 9 tips for effective communication with your manager;

  1. Before you speak to your manager, write down all the topics you want to discuss to ensure you cover all your concerns.
  2. Rehearse what you want to say if you’re nervous. Practice makes perfect!
  3. Make sure you’re clear about what you want or need from your manager and you achieve your objective before the conversation concludes.
  4. If at all possible, talk to your manager before issues become heated and you become emotionally involved.
  5. Try to repeat and rephrase the points your manager makes during a conversation to show that you’re listening. This will also allow them to clarify any points that you may misinterpret.
  6. Practice good body language.
  7. Keep an open mind and be open to compromise. Sometimes the solution may look different to what you had envisaged.
  8. Have a positive attitude.
  9. Communicate regularly with your manager to develop and maintain a comfortable relationship.

Once you have your communication methods cemented, you will find you and your manager are spending your time much more efficiently.

Keep these things in mind for the next time you need to approach your boss and you will go a long way to ensuring a positive outcome.

Pam McKean Pam McKean is the founder and director of two successful recruitment agencies - JSS Recruiting, servicing multiple industries specialising in Reception and Business Support; Medical Administration; and Marketing and PR – and AB Dental Employment Agency, which services 2000+ businesses and is the leading agency for the dental industry in Australia.


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