Let's Talk...Tips for Talking to Your Boss

Published Wednesday, January 05, 2011 3:07 PM

Let's face it, bosses may be people too but sometimes chitchat with the corner-office occupant can feel a tad strained. You may be comfortable talking to your boss about work-related mattershttp://bit.ly/gkXDi9 but find that casual conversation throws you for a loop. If you need help finding conversational common ground with your boss for work outings, the holiday party or those awkward elevator rides, we have some tips.

Listen: This may seem counterintuitive but if you are a careful listener, you will always have something to say. Good listening skills will reveal interesting information about a person - their favorite hobby, a recent vacation spot, their hometown - that will provide fodder for conversation. Warning: No Googling and revealing overly-intimate knowledge of your boss' life.

Ask Questions: People like to talk about themselves. Artfully asking questions will help conversation flow. You can ask specific questions such as "It's been ages since I've seen a good movie/play, do you have any recommendations?" or more open-ended questions such as "Have any good ideas for holiday activities for the kids?"

Don't Panic: If the conversation falls into a lull, try not to panic and say the first thing that pops into your mind. Lulls in conversation are natural; don't rush to fill the void.

Put the Ball in Their Court: Once you've gotten the ball rolling, turn the conversation over to your boss. Saying "what do you think?" about whatever you're discussing, makes your boss a partner in the conversation.

Know When It's Over: All conversations eventually run out of steam; know when call it quits and make a graceful exit. Leaving on a high note will leave both parties willing to re-engage the next time an opportunity presents itself.

For more on the art of conversation read How to Talk to Anyone at a Party and When Work Involves Socializing: Knowing What's Appropriate...and What's Not. 

 

How do you keep conversation flowing with higher-ups? Share your thoughts here by leaving a comment.

by Candie Harris

 

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