5 Tips on How to Effectively Communicate with Your Manager

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Let’s face it. When it comes to open communication in the workplace, there is a very thin line between hired and fired. Often times women of color are seen as overly aggressive when trying to communicate their thoughts, which leads many to shut off the notion of open communication at all. We all know that issues are bound to come up when dealing with different personalities, so how do you effectively communicate with your manager to be happier in your workplace? Julia Rock, a supervisor at a Fortune 500 Company, certified career coach, and owner of Rock Career Development breaks down 5 steps on how to effectively communicate at your workplace.

Utilize formal feedback sessions –

If your manager schedules monthly one-on-one sessions with you, use that time to share some of your concerns. Many times your manager may come into that session with pre-planned topics, so feel free to alert them in advance that there are topics you would like to discuss as well. Prepare and practice in advance of the conversation so that you will be able to effectively communicate what specific issues you are facing and potential solutions. This helps to ensure you don’t waste your manager’s time or don’t come across as just venting or complaining.

Opt for in-person, verbal communication instead of email –

Your tone can either get misconstrued or lost in written communication.  So make an effort to discuss sensitive issues with your manager face-to-face. This allows them to hear your tone, read your body language, and better understand the gravity of the concern you are expressing. In addition, the continued face time helps you maintain a stronger personal relationship.

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Develop a method for real-time communication –

If you are facing issues that are causing you discomfort in the workplace, it’s imperative that your manager is made aware early and often. You don’t have to wait until there is a scheduled conversation/meeting. Request just a short amount of time (perhaps 10-15 minutes) to discuss. You can even offer to purchase your manager a cup of coffee from the cafeteria or nearby coffee shop to help keep the meeting informal while you communicate your concerns. Find whatever system will work for you while still being considerate of your manager’s time.

Invest time in developing a relationship with your manager –

The most important relationship you will ever have at your company will be with your manager. They should be your biggest advocate and supporter, seeking ways to enable you in your career.  Therefore, it is important to make sure you develop an organic relationship that allows for open honesty and trust. You shouldn’t only find time to speak with your manager when you have an issue.

Stop by their office intermittently to simply ask how things are going.  If they’ve been tasked with a project, offer to assist in planning or coordination. Skip lunch with your girlfriends occasionally. Go out with your manager to just sit down and get to know one another. It is much easier to communicate with people that you are comfortable with and have already established a rapport with.  So taking time to build a strong relationship with your manager will help to relieve the pressure on future conversations when there are real problems to resolve.

Tap into your circle –

If you have trusted confidantes, particularly other women of color at your company, make an effort to get their perspective on how to potentially communicate issues to your manager. This is especially important when there is a more serious or sensitive matter that may trigger a negative discussion. A close confidante can serve as a neutral third party who can objectively listen to you as you voice your concerns and can give you feedback as to your delivery and how your points may be received.

Communication truly is key and proper communication is essential. Remember these 5 steps to help you facilitate a happy work environment that is conducive to your personal ethos. To learn more about Julia and her career services, visit Rock Career Development.

This guest post was authored by Julie Rock

Julie is a certified professional resume writer, employment interview professional, and career consultant.

In 2007, while pursuing her Bachelors degree, she found her passion in helping others achieve their full career potential. 

In 2013, Julia launched Rock Career Development.  She is dedicated to help job seekers and career changers take the guesswork out of the job search.


Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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