Seriously Struggling with Your Boss’s Communication Style? How to Resolve It

Communication is the foundation of all human relationships. From communicating verbally, to eye contact, to a single word – it’s vital to know how to communicate effectively in your personal and professional relationships. Even though we have control over our own communication, we unfortunately can’t control those around us. It can get even more difficult when communication issues arise at work, and even more so when they’re with your boss. Many of us have been there and I’ve certainly had to have some difficult, straight talks with the big woman/man on campus.

So how do you do it? How do you have an effective conversation with your boss around their poor communication? Check out this guideline that will set you up for success when you schedule your next meeting.

Write Out Your Intention

Get your thoughts out on paper and get organized. It’s important that you jot down your intention for having this conversation, what goals you want to achieve, and anything else that you may not fully remember when you’re in the meeting.

This will allow your thoughts to be clear rather than chaotic so you step in with full control over your part of the conversation.

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Get A Meeting Scheduled

When you reach out to your boss, it’s important that you purposely explain what you’re asking for. In the subject line of the email you can use the “@” sign to let them know what exactly the email will be about. For example, if you need someone to complete something, you can write in the subject line “@action – complete survey”. For this example, you can title the email “@request – 1-on-1 Meeting with Sarah Jane”. In the body of the email, share that you’d like to set up a 1-on-1 to discuss your goals in the business, your job performance, or new opportunities within the company. This will help you both come into the meeting with a clear mind and give your boss the expectation that she/he is coming into the meeting to discuss your professional development (one of their job responsibilities).

Discuss Roles and Responsibilities

Before you step into the meeting, are you clear? Present? Receptive? To help ease into the conversation, it’s good to address your roles and responsibilities in the company. Do you have these listed out as a resource? Print them out and take them into the meeting with you.

Get clear about how you’re performing in your role (even if you know you’re absolutely killing it).

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Straight Talk on Communication Issues

This is the time for you to really have straight talk (don’t beat around the bush) with your boss on poor communication. To have successful straight talk, you must be grounded in three components: commitment, compassion, and curiosity.

What are you committed to? This is where you get to talk about the goals you wrote down, the intention you had for this meeting, and the solution you are seeking. Make sure you have examples of observable, factual behavior in poor communication. It’s important to release interpretation and focus on what happened.

Have compassion. Is it necessary? Is it kind? Help your boss understand without criticizing. This is your opportunity to talk WITH your boss about how to BETTER communication – not degrade it. It’s valid to add the “how” here. How do you like to be communicated with/to?

And lastly, be curious. What do you not know? What other perspectives are out there? Get curious and invite the possibility that there’s more to see.

Create Next Steps

Once you’ve talked through the context, given factual behavior, requested your how-to, and included curiosity, share candidly how poor communication can impact you or the circumstances in your roles and responsibilities. It’s important to share the affect of these behaviors because in the end, you both share a major goal – to grow and better the company as a whole. Allow your boss to have the space to identify a solution and include any expectations you have so you both can confirm a solution and walk away with clarity. High fives on the way out, people, you’ve got this!

Kristi Triplett Jones

Kristi is a Certified Risk-Taking + Leadership Coach who works with women of different cultural backgrounds, promoting what healthy risk looks like around the world. Over the past 12 years, Kristi has traveled abroad with several companies assisting individuals and executives in empowerment, relational trainings, and engagement with their people and communities. She is a mental health writer, professional speaker, and advocate. You will most likely find her discovering new recipes, drinking hot tea with her corgi and yoga pants on.