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How to Understand Your Boss and
Work Well With Them


By Mikkie Mills

A boss is a leader, but that doesn't mean they can't also be a collaborator and colleague. How you view your boss is likely going to have a large impact on your relationship with them. Should you see them as an adversary, it's going to be difficult for you to cooperate with them. Here's how to figure out and get along with your boss.

Let your work speak for itself

Trying to impress your boss through flattery won't get you anywhere. In order to convince them you're an effective worker, you just need to be an effective worker. If you're starting a new job, this means listening to their instructions and taking notes. Should you have any questions, you should bring them up as soon as possible. It can be embarrassing, but your boss will be glad to see how seriously you're taking your new position.

Others will try to appeal to their boss by throwing their colleagues under the bus. These deceitful tactics are beneath you. Any worthwhile boss will see when employees are trying to gain favor with them through sabotage. What other people in the office are doing is not to be your concern. Keep your head down and focus on how your efforts alone can impress your boss.

Ask around

You might not get a full peg on your boss in the first week or even the first month of work, but you can figure them out by asking your fellow employees. When introducing yourself to coworkers, bring up your boss. Ask about what kind of management style they have and what advice they have for working under them. The best people to ask will be those with the most seniority.

Be prepared for a mix of responses. Some might adore your boss while others might turn their nose at them. Your best bet is to ignore responses that go too far to either end of the love/hate spectrum. It can be reasonably assumed that most bosses will be competent leaders with specific personality traits that most won't mind. If your boss has a history of bad manager behavior, you should keep your guard up.

Open up

The job interview was a good chance to talk about yourself on a professional level. As you adapt to the new work environment, you can talk more about yourself. These should all be work-appropriate conversation topics. If you're unsure about what would be suitable, take a look at this list.

As you open up to your boss, see if they open up to you. When they greet you in the morning or ask about your weekend, offer them a substantial answer. You might find that you have common ground with them. It could be a similar interest in a television series or fondness for a certain travel destination. The closer you develop a personal (but professional) relationship, the easier it will be to talk to your boss when you're dealing with any sort of stress. The value of a boss as a confidant should not be forgotten. Anyone who knows anything about management understands how to lend an ear.


You can make your relationship with your boss easier by seeing them as more than your boss. Think of them as being a fellow human, not your boss. While you may report to them, you don't have to view them with any sort of fear. By learning about what they're looking for in employees and learning how to interact with them on a social basis, you can have a positive, lasting relationship with your boss.

About Mikkie Mills: “I’m a Chicago native who loves to share her expertise about personal development and growth. When I’m not writing, I’m chasing the little ones around or rock climbing at the local climbing gym.” More articles by Mikkie.
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