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10 Strategies to Communicate Better With Your Boss

Try these tips to open the lines of communication between you and your boss.

Key points

  • Don't let an uncommunicative boss dictate your relationship.
  • Find ways to connect and make your boss's workday easier and more productive.
  • Ask questions to encourage dialogue and be receptive to the answers.
  • Be clear, professional, and direct while assertively sharing your ideas and proposed next steps.
Sora Shimazaki/Pexels
Source: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels

You don’t know where you stand if your boss isn’t telling you. Even if the lack of dialogue has nothing to do with you or your work performance, an unresponsive boss can make your workday uncomfortable and your interactions unnerving.

Unresponsive communicators refuse to tell you why they’re silent. This can be intimidating, especially if you allow your mind to wander. Before worrying yourself sick, try these strategies to improve your overall relationship:

  1. Find some way to help your boss and thereby help yourself. You don’t have to become best friends; you just want the boss to feel friendly toward you. What do most bosses need? More time, less work, and good news.
  2. Look for time-savers. In your own niche, go over every step that involves the boss. Can you make your emails more succinct? Can you quantify and qualify data so that it’s easier for the boss to utilize the information?
  3. Look for work-savers. Is there some task you could offer to take over because it really doesn’t require the boss’s high-level decision-making? Are there items that can be combined for an easier and sharper review by the boss? Remember that some unsociable people prefer texts to in-person dialogue. Consider sharing these ideas that way.

Does your boss clam up? Be patient yet persistent.

  1. Ask open-ended questions. Avoid queries that can be answered with a yes or no nod. Without pressuring, go after detailed, specific information.
  2. Wait patiently for a response. Look directly at your boss, ask your question, then wait, smiling-without uttering another word until you get a reply. Turn the tables and use the silence to your advantage. Don’t rush your boss, who may be deep in thought, weighing your words before reaching a decision.
  3. Use body language as encouragement. Nod to show active listening but let your boss talk.
  4. Acknowledge your boss’s authority—don’t threaten it. Present your ideas as considerations and ask the boss how to proceed.

Does your boss avoid arguments, opting for silence instead? Be professional yet assertive.

  1. Make an appointment with your boss. Don’t go into any detail. Just schedule ten minutes of the boss’s time. You can’t keep avoiding each other or dismissing the fact that you’re not communicating.
  2. Get directly to the point of the meeting. After expressing your desire to attain your mutual objectives, state what you are sensing. Be frank but friendly. If you feel your boss is afraid of taking risks, supply more concrete or dependable information.
  3. Send an email clearly stating what you plan to do. If you still get no answer, and upon hearing no objection, do it. Move slowly. If you’re not stopped, move a little more, but keep your boss informed. Help to set the parameters for a newly empowered relationship.

Tight-lipped and uncommunicative bosses are particularly frustrating because they may or may not be reacting to something you did or did not do. But it’s not good for you to continue working under the stress of uncertainty. You must get your boss to open up. The best way is to take the initiative and politely, professionally ask open-ended questions that can give you the direction you’re seeking.

Copyright© 2022 Amy Cooper Hakim

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