Knowing how to communicate effectively is an art, whether you are trying to smooth troubled marital waters or receive a little extra help around the house from your teenager. Part of being a good supervisor at work involves being able to communicate well with your workers, but how well you communicate with your boss is equally important.
Here are some tips for getting off on the right foot with a new boss, or improving your working relationship with an existing one:
Watch and learn. It should be easy to figure out how your boss likes to communicate. If he or she uses email or the telephone more than face-to-face meetings, then you should use those methods when you want to pass information on to your boss. Conversely, if your manager seems to prefer face-to-face meetings, bring your face to that person’s office if you need to discuss something.
Is the timing right? You may feel the need to discuss an issue with your boss, but unless it’s an emergency you’ll need to gauge whether now is the best time for a discussion. If your boss is buried in tasks, you are not going to get his or her full attention and may receive a frosty response.
Come prepared. Bring notes or other information that you can refer to in order to make your point. Don’t wing it.
Be respectful and act professionally at all times.
Watch your body language. Don’t stare at the ground. Make eye contact. Having your hands on your hips can be taken as an aggressive stance. Keep your body relaxed.
Listen to what your boss is saying. Don’t interrupt until there is a break and you feel the time is right to calmly state your position.
Don’t lose it and become emotional. Showing some forms of emotion, such as enthusiasm or excitement, is acceptable and actually favorable, but the opposite, getting angry and yelling or shouting, could be counterproductive to your future.
Ask questions to show your interest in your job and willingness to learn new information. Many bosses are happy to give you advice on how to advance your career with the company.
Don’t sit on an uncomfortable problem or situation. If your boss needs to know about a problem, such as an illness that could take you off the job for a while, you need to share that information as soon as you learn it. Nobody likes being left in the lurch with no time to prepare for your sudden, unexpected absence.
Stay positive. Nobody likes a whiner. Try to offer your boss solutions to a problem.
Communication can open many doors, career-wise and otherwise. But poor communication skills put a real strain on all types of relationships, whether it’s your job or your personal life.