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Listen and ask questions with your boss

Effective two-way communication is vital to managing your relationship with your boss. The ability to listen to what your boss is saying and how he or she is saying it is just as important as conveying your own message clearly and succinctly. By being attentive to the explicit and implicit messages your boss is communicating, you can ensure that you and your manager are in alignment on tasks and priorities.

During every encounter with your manager, let him or her know about any questions you have and any areas requiring clarification.

Listen actively to your boss’s responses by:

  • Offering verbal feedback (“I see” or “I know what you mean”) and nonverbal feedback (nodding or smiling) to indicate your understanding
  • Paraphrasing what your boss is saying to check that you’ve understood correctly
  • Withholding judgment of whatever your boss is saying, to show interest and empathy

Also use questions to:

  • Be proactive.
  • Find out what kinds of information your boss wants from you, how often, when, and in what format
  • Gather new insights about your manager’s priorities, expectations, concerns, and viewpoints
  • Show interest in your boss’s business objectives
  • Check for agreement on critical points
  • Continue building trust and rapport
  • Verify or clarify information your boss has imparted to you


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