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4 Ways to Communicate Better With Your Boss

By Maurie Backman – Nov 17, 2018 at 7:32AM

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Communication is the key to a good working relationship -- especially when it comes to your manager.

The relationship you have with your boss can dictate how pleasant your work experience is and how rapidly you advance at your company. As such, it's worth sinking some time into improving the way you communicate with your manager. Here are a few ways to get started.

1. Understand what information your boss expects you to share

If your boss is the detail-oriented type (think not-quite micromanager but close), then he or she will probably expect in-depth updates on major projects and other items you're working on. But if your boss is a bit more hands off, or has indicated that he or she trusts you to do your job, then there's no sense in inundating your manager with pages of email text or lengthy voice messages on a regular basis. Therefore, aim to determine how much information your boss actually wants to get from you, and plan your messaging accordingly.

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2. Identify your boss' preferred method of communication

Some managers enjoy the convenience of email, as it allows them to respond to messages when they please. Others prefer live or face-to-face communication, as they find it more personal and efficient. Be sure to understand how your boss likes to communicate, and respect that method consistently. This way, your boss will be more receptive to whatever it is you have to say.

3. Know when your boss is available

It's easy for important messages to get lost in the shuffle when your boss is busy juggling meetings, deadlines, and more emails than a standard inbox should legally be allowed to receive in a single day. If you want to make sure that you're getting through to your boss, plan to reach out during periods when he or she is more available.

For example, if your boss tends to get to work early when most folks in your office don't, make a point of showing up before the crowds roll in and pop in for a quick chat with your manager. You might even time the delivery of your emails so that they arrive in your boss' inbox during those early-morning hours, when he or she is more apt to see them.

4. Don't beat around the bush

Your boss is most likely a busy person, which means he or she probably doesn't have time to decode your messages or read between the lines when you gloss over points of frustration. That's why it pays to just be honest with your manager when there's something on your mind.

For example, if your colleague Bob is falling down on his responsibilities to the point where the project you're managing is at risk of missing its deadline, don't just tell your boss, "Oh, well, we're having some unfortunate challenges." Instead, say, "Sorry to throw Bob under the bus, but he's not pulling his weight. What can we do here?"

The better you're able to communicate with your boss, the more solid a relationship you'll have. And that's something that could end up helping your career in more ways than one.

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