Most video games follow a basic formula: first you battle waves of various evil cronies, then reach the end of the level to fight and defeat the End Boss. Of course, the strategy you have used to fend off the evil henchmen does not apply to the End Boss. He requires a different approach. He requires a little more finesse, and less punch-for-punch.
Maybe your boss seems to be like an End Boss that you must destroy at the end of each day. Only, to keep with the metaphor, you lose at the end of every day and have to repeat the level the next day. Or perhaps your boss is more of a mystery than an End Boss—not so much a villain to crush as he is a riddle to solve.
If you ever ask yourself “I wonder how to improve communication with my boss?” then there are a few things you should consider first.
What do you want to improve?
Is the dynamic a dysfunction in need of an overhaul, or is it more a desire to positively build on a somewhat functioning relationship?
What is your boss like?
Is he an End Boss or a Mystery? Is he under a lot of pressure from his superiors? What’s his personality like?
Knowing who your boss is can save you a lot of grief. If you can read him better, you can avoid asking him questions at odd times of the day when his patience is most strained.
What are you doing about it?
Are you making the situation better or worse? By doing nothing you ensure nothing gets done. The website Therapy Times is an online magazine that deals with relational dynamics between workers and their superiors, and it gives Five Tips to Improve Communication with Your Boss, no matter what the status your relationship with your boss is.
- Assume responsibility. Nothing will change until someone takes responsibility. Don’t assume the onus belongs to your boss. He might not even know communication has broken down. You may not be the sole culprit, but you can improve the chances of changing the situation when you are accountable and assume the responsibility to start the process.
- Assess vulnerability. Are you being too sensitive? What is he saying? What does he mean? Write these things down and it can bring clarity and honesty to the situation. Perhaps you are transferring static from home to work; maybe your boss is. If this is the case, the friction between you and your boss may only be symptomatic and not problematic.
- Think before you speak. In highly sensitive situations it is best to let things cool down and allow yourself time to phrase what you want to say instead of speaking out of an emotional reaction.
- Reconcile. There are a few simple ways you can bridge your relationship with your boss, and all they require is taking a few proactive steps. Suggest you want to work better together. Be specific and use examples to illustrate your point. Use body language and behaviors that promote positive communication, such as eye contact, an open stance, and even a smile if you can.
- Select other options. If nothing seems to resolve the conflict, there are more serious measures you can take, such as approaching human resources (first), or talking to your boss’ boss (a last resort). However, no matter what, be resilient and try to shine despite the toxic atmosphere. Your professionalism and continued execution will vouch for you among other supervisors and can be a measure of personal integrity of which you can be proud.
By being proactive and understanding, as well as by maintaining personal integrity, you can repair the communication breach between you and your boss.
Then the “I wonder how to improve communication with my boss?” question can at least be a question that has a few achievable answers. And that is the type of finesse that it takes to win over an End Boss, and the kind of savvy it takes to solve the unsolvable Mystery.