Effectively communicating with your boss is an essential skill to have in the workplace, especially when you’re in a leadership role. There are a right way and a wrong way to talk to your boss; it’s not like talking to a regular colleague and you must keep that in mind with every interaction you have with your higher-ups.

Here are some examples of what to avoid when you’re speaking with your boss:

Telling them “I can’t”

If you’re saying this, you will come off as unwilling and lacking confidence. Your management won’t appreciate this lack of flexibility or your negative attitude.

Don’t put down your colleagues

While we want to let our bosses know that we’re valuable to the company so that they consider us for opportunities in the future, but don’t minimize what your team did to make yourself look better, or even worse, take credit for what they did. This shows your boss that you’re not a team player and makes you look very unprofessional.

If you’re wanting to talk about issues with a colleague, that’s a different story, but still requires the utmost professionalism in your approach.

Saying that something isn’t in your job description

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should use a piece of machinery when you’re actually in accounting, just because your boss tells you to, but use common sense.

Bosses appreciate flexibility in their team, and getting more skills and experience in different roles will make you even more valuable to the company.

Don’t be too humble

Learning how to accept praise from management (or anyone!) is hard to do, and a lot of us try and deflect the compliments onto others, minimizing our own achievements for fear of coming off as arrogant. But you also don’t want to appear to be taking all the credit either. So what’s the middle ground?

Acknowledge what you accomplished, give credit where it’s due and doesn’t brush off the praise you receive. This way you show that you work well in a team, and are professional.

Saying ‘No’
While saying ‘no’ can be needed at times, you need to be polite and professional and remember that you’re expected to be as cooperative as possible when your boss asks you to do something. If you need to say no to something, try and phrase it in a way that explains your refusal, like mentioning another deadline you have and asking if your focus should change from that.

Being mindful of how you talk to and interact with your boss will help you greatly in your career. It’s important to have a positive relationship with all co-workers, including those higher up than you.

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