That should be the theme of communicating with your boss – at least in most situations.
On today’s flight to Chicago I was catching glimpses of The Devil Wears Prada. (Which, by the way, is a classic example of how pure body language communicates – was watching much of it without sound, and you can SEE the aloof and magisterial nature of Meryl Streep's character. You don’t need the words, although if you just heard her tone you would still HEAR the aloof and magisterial. An example of a great actress communicating without needing words.)
Andy (played by Anne Hathaway) is a new and unsophisticated assistant of the powerful czar Miranda (Meryl Streep.) Yet from the start she showed respect (an essential) but was not reluctant to state her case (important if you want to get ahead and to influence.) She had her own style of forward lean, and had success on her own terms.
In my own case, I run a company where my son and daughter-in-law, Ben and Kelly, are officers and key players. Not an easy situation for them, since I founded the company as well. What makes it work is they both show respect without reluctance – each in his/her own and different ways, and that makes all the difference. It works, and it’s a smooth communication process that also stimulates creativity and new ideas
Some tips on how to effecitvely communicate with your boss:
- Have an agenda. Always listen and check in with what the boss might want or lean towards, but always think “what would I do in this situation” and then state it (after a pause.)
- Keep eye contact. There is no bigger giveaway of uncertainty than downcast eyes – particularly under pressure. Get in the habit of maintaining eye communication longer than you might normally with your boss – particularly in tense of confrontive situations. 5 to 10 seconds is good.
- Think on your feet. You are there to communicate ideas, not just be silent and take it in (exceptions to this of course.) So have a POV (Point Of View) and take the initiative to express it creatively.
- Pause. This is one of the most powerful communication skills in speaking, and selling. And that’s what we’re talking about here – but it is more important because you want your boss to take the lead. So pause – stop, look and listen – and then use the green light approach. Pausing also allows you think time to come up with that bright scintillating idea, and express it.
- Be a peer. Perhaps not literally, but work on a relationship that has your boss respecting and soliciting your opinion. Be relevant and focused of course, but ‘act as if’ you are at the same level as your boss.
- Vocal energy. Bosses love enthusiasm with a ‘can do’ attitude. Much of that can be communicated by your voice – even when you ‘can’t do.’
So, are you a boss, or are you the bossed? Either way, what are your tips on how one can be more effective.?