How to speak so your boss really listens

By Robert Half on 10 September 2018

If you are lucky, you and your boss have an amazing working relationship that includes great communication and an open door policy.

However, not everyone can count themselves as being so fortunate, leading to missed opportunities to show the company the value you bring. Fostering an effective relationship with your direct manager where communication is open and transparent takes time, but is well worth the effort - for both yourself, and your employer.

Here are four valuable tips to help you speak to your boss in a way to get them to listen to what you have to offer.

1. Speak their language

Make your boss comfortable by following their lead. If they have a relaxed demeanour, follow suit. If they are stiff and formal, then that is the way you should be as well.

The more you work with your boss, the better you will understand their language, spoken or otherwise.

As a rough guide, if you are new to the team, it is always better to over-communicate than leave things to assumption. There will come a time that you will be able to read your boss’s mood when they walk through the door.

Learn your boss’ language and you’ll be getting everybody’s attention at the boardroom in no time.

2. Help them help you

Do not be afraid to ask or clarify. The worst thing you can do is to move forward on a task or project without actually having a clear understanding of what it entails.

Before you sit down to complete anything, clearly echo back to your boss what you understand your responsibilities to be. Once this is firmed, you can move ahead with confidence.

By communicating effectively, it eliminates the possibility for errors and makes you a model employee on the team.

3. Empower your boss

Make him look good. Think about it – every boss would want their employee on their side and yours is no exception.

Try not to keep secrets (work-related) from your boss. They would not want to be the last one in the office to know about something that’s happening. Also, if your opinion happens to run counter to his, justify where you are coming from.

Providing different perspectives will help empower your boss to make better and more informed decisions.

4. Honesty is the best policy

If you make a mistake, admit it. Do not try to hide it, blame someone else or hope that no one notices it.

The minute you make a mistake and it is not something that you can fix on your own, take it directly to your boss. You’ll be surprised at how many employers appreciate employee honesty.

When you are open and aboveboard, your management is able to see that you have the company’s best interests in mind and will therefore, communicate with you more freely.

You would want to have a solid, long-term relationship with your boss. If nurtured properly, this relationship can last a lifetime and you can count on this person being on your side of the court.

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