Looking at my watch, I anxiously pace back and forth in the hall. I was supposed to talk to my boss 10 minutes ago, but I was too nervous. I planned to discuss innovative ways to improve the office. I was intimidated and unsure of myself, but I pushed on.
Many people struggle with talking to their bosses. Whether discussing time off, salary, or problems at work, everyone has to deal with these conversations at some point. To help you succeed, let me share with you three of the best ways you can effectively communicate with your boss.
1. Be confident and have a plan.
This should be self-explanatory, but it needs to be said. If you go to talk to your boss, they can tell if you’re not confident. When you communicate with your boss, you should be confident in your speech, body language, and demeanor.
Easier said than done, so how exactly do you become more confident? The best way to achieve this is to produce a plan. Before you go into the meeting, plan what you are going to talk about. More importantly, consider possible responses to what your boss might say.
For example, let’s say you talk to your boss about taking some days off for vacation. Before going in, you should have an idea of how many days you want to take off, what you have done to earn the days off, and what you will complete before you leave. This plan allows you to walk in with exactly what you are going to discuss and how you will respond to questions. This makes you look confident and makes it easier for your boss to say yes.
2. Be solution oriented.
When you communicate with your boss, make sure the discussion is solution oriented. People don’t like listening to others complain or rant about their problems. This is especially true with your boss, whose time is limited. But, good bosses are always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of the business.
If you find something that is time consuming or causes problems for staff, try to figure out a solution to the problem. Anyone can present problems. You’re hired to find solutions.
Going in with this mindset will serve you well. Your boss will not only take you more seriously as an employee if your solutions work, but they will see you as a future leader.
3. Be honest and know when to say no.
Your boss wants honesty. Honesty builds trust, which you’ll need to earn. Don’t be the person who lies under pressure, or takes on too much because you’re afraid to say you’re overworked. You’ll be respected all the more for prioritizing correctly and knowing your own limitations.
For example, John is a new employee who enjoys his job. But, this past week, he was taking on too many assignments, to the point where it was too much. He couldn’t say no to his new coworkers and bosses, because he wanted to make them happy. But he was lagging, and people were starting to take notice.
His new boss called him in for a meeting to discuss what exactly was going on. John, after walking in, immediately started complaining about how they were issuing him too much work. How he had only just started, and they were forcing everything on him. How everyone else didn’t have nearly as much work as he did.
Do you see any problems with this? I hope so, because this is the opposite of what should have happened.
From the beginning, John should communicate with coworkers, explain his current workload priorities, and establish healthy boundaries. Failing that, he should go to his boss with a plan and establish realistic deadlines. That way, he and his boss can look at his current work and reprioritize. If John waits until it’s gotten out of hand and he’s overwhelmed, he’s already made a bad impression.
Talking to your boss can be extremely difficult and nerve-racking. But if you approach with honesty, present a confident plan, and show your boss you are solution-oriented, you’ll do great. Each and every one of us will have to talk to a boss at some point in our lives. When the day comes to take action, you’ll be well prepared.