Wick Communications

Making peace with the boss

In Workplace on 20 Oct 2011 at 3:38 pm

Do you ever get mad at your boss?

Well, of course not. No, your boss is an angel, calling you at home only to shower you with praise and perhaps to offer to wash your car. Every interaction with your boss leaves a slight scent of lilacs. Your boss buys you trinkets every Thursday, because you deserve the midweek pick-me-up. Your boss has been known to call staff meetings just to put your many good works into the form of a sonnet.

No, I’m not talking about you. You will be surprised to learn that some bosses aren’t so nurturing.

Seriously, the quality of your relationship with your boss is directly correlated to your job satisfaction. The good news is that this is something over which you have some control. You can’t give yourself a raise. You can’t occupy the corner office. But you can make some small changes in your behavior that could improve your workday and your life.

  • Talk. The single most important thing you can do to improve your relationship with your boss is to talk to her. It really is as simple as that. It only becomes complicated if you wait till all those little things add up to a ball in the pit of your stomach. Talk to your boss every working day. Talk about the weather. Talk about your kid’s ballgame. Talk about the weekend work schedule. Humanize one another.
  • Listen. This is a two-way street. Your boss is at least as busy as you are. I want you to say hello in the morning, to regularize relations, but I want you to hear him as well. If he says he is busy, back off. If he says he needs something from you today, make it happen. Talk. Then listen. …
  • Remain calm. They say animals can sense when you are uptight and that they act accordingly. Your boss is such an animal. If you are accusatory or defensive, you can expect your boss to take a fighting posture, too. Don’t say things that are hard to take back. Know when you are feeling tired and run down and wait to have difficult conversations until you are both up for it.
  • Write with care. Email is great. It allows you to collect your thoughts, craft your message and edit your writing till you have your message just right. With due respect to the delete button, it is also forever. We tend to write things we would never say face to face (just take a look at your newspaper’s comment section.) It’s also easy to send our little missives to several people at once.

Because email is so easy, because you can send it two beers into a long night, I think of it as a cool medium. By that I mean, I try to only hit send when I am sure I have my wits about me. Don’t be afraid to save it as a draft. If you are sending an email to your boss, read it twice. Think about how it will sound to her. Be mindful of conversations that are better had face to face.

We all know that writing is powerful. Treat it with care.


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