Seven ways to improve communication with your boss

You may find yourself in a position at work where you have to give your boss some good reasons why you need a raise, or prove to him or her that you are the best one for the job, or just to get yourself out of trouble.  Here are some tips:

  • Prepare yourself well by making some notes about what you need to say, but don’t make a “meal” of it. Keep your notes to the point and brief.  Think of all the positive contributions you have made also.  Don’t forget to smile in the meeting – look friendly and have good eye contact.
  • Know what your intentions are and make sure you keep positive and calm and don’t get defensive or angry. Be courteous and know that your first response is the most important, and also that it doesn’t have to be made quickly – pause and think about it.
  • Be rational. If you think you have been criticized unfairly, get your boss to repeat the problem back to you.  This keeps things from getting personal and focused on the issue.  This gives you an opportunity to repeat the claim back, and then to put your perspective, or to spell out the facts of the matter.  The boss may have had incorrect information and you have an opportunity to correct this.
  • Avoid a fight, getting angry or caving in. You don’t have to deny or accept any blame. Your boss may not be calm and rational, but you have to be.  If you seem to be in the wrong, admit this and say you appreciate the feedback and ask for clear directions about future ways of improving things.  Speak to him or her respectfully and keep in mind the goals of the team rather than any personal differences.
  • Smile and nod and show that you are interested in coming to an agreeable outcome. Turn your body in his direction and show that you are listening and responding.  Sit upright with your shoulders pulled back.  Look and behave in a professional manner.
  • Choose a good time to have your meeting. If the boss has a secretary, find a good time to have your meeting unless you have been called by the boss first. If no secretary, you may ask the boss in passing what would be a good time, or choose one late in the afternoon or on a Friday.  Know what you want to say and don’t waste the boss’s time. Let him or her know what it is that you want; that is some guidance or direction or advice or information.
  • Follow up in two or three days and make sure that everything is clear between you regarding what was discussed. Show your appreciation for the time spent in the meeting.


Whatever the purpose of your meeting be aware that everything matters – your body language, your words and your intention. Be positive and confidant and remember to prepare well.