When it comes to communicating with your boss in the most effective way possible, you may only get one chance to do it right. Here are ten powerfully persuasive ways to show him you’re the best for the job or worth that raise, or to just do damage control effectively.
1. Prepare Your Speech
• Prepare what you want to say to your boss ahead of time. Don’t just “wing it”—you want to remind your boss just how organized, capable and confident you are.
• Focus on the positive contributions you’ve made, and how they have affected the overall structure and goals of the company. Highlight all of them—from small to big.
• Let your boss know just how much you love working with him/her—smile!
2. Be Specific about Your Intentions
• Good communication can turn sour very quickly, and with just a few words.
• Focus on being positive, unemotional and quick to respond as though you’ve been listening to every word your boss has said.
• Recap his thoughts if necessary to be clear. “So, what you’re telling me is that you’d like …”
3. Stay Rational at All Times
• No one knows how to handle a crying employee—no matter how great that employee’s job performance may be.
• Focus on talking to your boss when you are calm and in control of your emotions (not when you just broke up with your spouse, or when your car just got a flat tire).
4. Take Responsibility
• Show that you are in total control of yourself and your responsibilities at work. Tell your boss what part you played in a project that was beneath his expectations, and how you can improve it for the future.
• Offer up a plan of action to correct your mistake, and make your intention to patch things up so that they meet his expectations crystal-clear.
5. Be Accountable for Your Actions
• You’re not just responsible—you are the reliable employee he was once so excited to bring onboard.
• Remind him why you’re still that person. Tell him about the extra mile you’ll go to regain his faith in you, how you can improve next quarter’s sales record, and the goals you have lined up for next month.
6. Use Closed-ended Statements
• If you want to be considered for an upcoming project (to show how valuable you really are) or to express your feelings about a particular matter, closed-ended statements are effective and can seal the deal right then and there.
• Using them is a smart way to define what’s going to happen. Ex: “I’ll follow up with you in three days to make sure we’re on track, and we’ll work from there!”
7. Smile and Nod
• People want to be around happy people—it’s a rule of the workplace and beyond.
• Flash those pearly whites—focus on ending each statement with a clear intention and in a positive way, and act professional no matter what issue you’re addressing.
• Nod to show that you’re actively listening to what your boss is saying—you can repeat part of it as necessary to show you understand what they want from you.
8. Use Positive Body Language Cues
• Turn your body slightly towards their direction—this shows them you are listening and responding to what they are saying with interest.
• Make regular eye contact—Show confidence and professionalism.
• Straight posture—Sit upright with shoulders that are back (not leaned or hunched forward) and, if you’re a woman, cross your ankles. Show that you take your job and your appearance seriously.
9. Pick the Right Time to Communicate
• Timing is everything—talking to your boss is no exception to this rule!
• Focus on late in the afternoon (when your boss is in between projects) or last thing on a Friday before he/she heads out the office for the weekend.
• Line up your achievements in your head, and ask if this is a good time to talk—“Do you have a few minutes to go over my project with the Lawful case?”
• Briefly guide him through your past history with this client, and be clear about what you need help with. Is it guidance, direction or advice?
• Talk clearly, and let your boss know how much you value his input. Leave it on a positive note.
10. Follow Up
• Whatever the discussion was about (pay raise, clarity on a discussion, etc.), follow up within 24–48 hours.
• Make sure you are on the same page as your boss, and show him you love being a valuable member of his team.
• Smile, nod and show appreciation for the work you’re able to do.
A Few Last Words …
Whether you’re pitching a pay increase or just want to express your needs to your boss, everything matters, from your body language to the words you use to get your message across. Stay positive, exude confidence and prepare what you’re going to say ahead of time in order to maximize your success.