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How to communicate with your boss (and get what you want)

So, let’s say you’ve been working for a company for a while, and you really want to find a way to accomplish some new tasks or take on new roles with your position. You’re ambitious, hungry, and ready for a challenge. But that means figuring out how to convince your boss that A) You’re ready B) You’re capable and C) You’re serious. Or maybe you need to bring something important or a new idea to their attention and be taken seriously.

Our handy graph displays how much time you’ll probably spend getting ready to make that request. Don’t sweat it—worrying is normal. It helps you be prepared!

Pro tip: Before you make the request, know how to make the request. We’ve got some communication tactics that will help you to your boss and position yourself so when the time comes to make the ask, your boss doesn’t even hesitate to say yes. It’s all about listening, thinking from his or her perspective, and doing your homework

Here’s 5 ways on how to communicate with your boss effectively:

1. Listen to your boss.

Over the past year or so, you’ve been able to study the preferred communication style of your boss. Now that it’s time for you to communicate directly with your boss, it’s a good idea to mirror that style. Does your boss like details? Statistics? Short and sweet conversations? Figure out what works for your boss, and calculate your approach based on that. Also, keep in mind your boss’s generational communication.

2. Think about the big picture.

Your boss probably doesn’t have time for details. Plus, their job as a leader is to think at a high level and make decisions—not figure out the logistics of a smaller task. So your request needs to be tailored to the way the boss thinks—how is it beneficial not just for you, but for the company? Consider a perspective other than your own and put yourself in the boss’s shoes.

3. Anticipate questions.

Priority number one is to have a clear, concise request, but priority number two is to have your research ready to field any questions the boss may have. Think numbers, stats, goals—have some concrete evidence and planning to bring to the table. If you can field the five toughest questions your boss may ask, you’re golden!

4. Remove the emotion.

Get yourself in a good spot by avoiding interaction with your boss while you’re in a highly emotive state. By always removing emotion, you’ll eliminate the risk of saying something that might jeopardize your positioning. Take a breather before rushing angrily into their office, and save the tears for home. When it’s time to have the big conversation, try to relax and calm your nerves. Be poised, composed, and lucid and present your best side.

5. Watch the body language.

You may have the best verbal communication in the world, but if your body language sucks—it ruins everything. You want to communicate authority with your body language. Amy Cudy shares specifics on how use body language to get what you want, including things like posture and why you should take up as much space as you can. Be aware of your facial expression, any folded arms, or foot tapping that might be sending your boss mixed signals when the two of you communicate.

When the time is right to make the ask, these tactics should help you seal the deal. Your planning starts now, so get to work! And remember, your boss is human. If you’re sincere, prepared, and know how/what you want, why should they say no?

What tactics do you use to communicate to your boss?

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