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Top 7 Steps to Communicating Effectively with Your Boss
By Candice Gottlieb
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Have something important to discuss with your boss…but don’t know how? Direct communication with a boss or supervisor may seem overwhelming, but if you want change, it is necessary. Here are some basic steps to help you address a touchy issue. Our example: Ending a “temporary” salary reduction:
- Prepare yourself
Make a list of your questions, concerns, needs, etc. and review it thoroughly. Determine your main goal (ie reinstatement of full salary with retroactive pay for the reduced salary), as well as clearly defining you primary issue or concern. By being focused on these main points, you will be able to keep your communication clear and to the point.
- Ask for a meeting
Do not be specific about the issue at this time. Simply state that you have some concerns to discuss, and want to be sure that you will both have time to address them without interruption. Not only does this ensure that you will be given an appropriate amount of time for discussing your concerns, but it is respectful of the other person’s time as well.
- Choose a positive angle
To reduce resistance, you will want to approach the topic without blame. For example, begin the conversation by acknowledging the reasons for the salary reduction, your awareness that things have been improving, and your interest in having your salary reinstated.
- Get their response
Once you have stated your case, briefly, succinctly, and without blame, ask your boss for a response. He/she may give reasons for the current situation and may or may not offer to make the changes you’ve requested. Your purpose here is to get information. If immediate change is not possible, ask your boss to tell you what he can and will do. Have him be as specific as possible.
- Propose solutions/suggestions
Most likely your boss has spent little if any time thinking about this issue before you brought it up. Be prepared with your own ideas for a solution, and suggest them if you are not satisfied with the solutions offered.
- Discuss follow-up or next steps
Most likely the full issue will not be resolved in this one conversation. Perhaps your boss does not have the authority to make these decisions, or he needs time to review the financial records in advance of committing to your requests. If this is the case, make a concrete plan with him for further discussion and follow-up.
- Show appreciation
Before ending the meeting, thank your boss/supervisor for his time and attention to your concerns. Be sincere and specific. This will go a long way in rebuilding trust and re-establishing a healthy work relationship.
Candice Gottlieb is the founder and president of Mediating Solutions, an organizational consulting firm specializing in providing conflict management and employee relations services to business and individuals.
Article Submitted On: April 18, 2008