Communicating with your boss is one of the most important things you will ever have to do at work. It may not be listed on your duty statement, but we all know that if we cannot establish good on-going communications with our manager then chances are that our working life will not be as rewarding as it should be. In fact, work could turn out to be a real disappointment.
Whilst good communications require the cooperation of both parties, sometimes it falls upon the employee to initiate an improvement. What follows is a list of practical tips that will help you improve your communication with your boss and hopefully make your work life a lot more enjoyable and productive.
Good communications are frequent.
If you and your boss are not communicating on a regular basis chances are that misunderstandings and mistakes will emerge. It’s in your interest, therefore, to try to set up regular meetings with your boss where important issues and expectations are clarified. These meeting do not have to be long or official. They just have to be regular. This way potential problems can be identified early rather than allowing them to escalate.
Make sure your boss delegates work clearly.
One of the most common sources of communication problems is employees misunderstanding what their bosses expect of them. Often this happens because the boss is too busy to take the time to explain things properly. Next time your boss gives you work be sure he/she provides you with enough detail so you know exactly what’s expected of you. Be sure that you clarify issues such as deadlines, quality of work, money and resources to be used.
Running good meetings.
It’s important that your meetings are run in a way in which everyone gets a fair say and that people are encouraged to disagree in an open and constructive way. If your boss, or other individuals, are dominating meetings and/or intimidating people you may wish, when the time is appropriate, to raise this issue in the spirit of improved communications. If you do this, be sure you avoid making negative or inflammatory remarks. For example, instead of saying: “I don’t think you’re doing a good job running our meetings,” you could say, “I think I know of way in which we can get more out of our meetings”.
Avoid letting problems fester inside of you.
It’s generally much healthier to bring problems out in the open where they can be acknowledged and worked on. Good communicators are open about their work related issues. The key is to avoid saying things in a way that might unnecessarily provoke people. Using “I” statements can be very helpful here. For example, instead of saying: “I can’t stand the way you talk to me,” you can say, “Every time you raise your voice at me, I feel threatened. Then I can’t do my work properly. Can we talk about getting to a solution?”
Be very aware of your body language. Research shows that we communicate much more via our body language than we think. It’s self-defeating to use positive verbal language if your body language is negative. Negative body language usually comes from feeling bad. So, try to stay positive. There may be times when you think that will be hard to do but it’s exactly during those difficult times that you need to use your powers of discipline to maintain a positive disposition. Remember that your boss will immediately pick up your negativity via your body language. Good communicators possess the discipline to overcome their immediate emotions for the longer term good.