Communicating well with your boss is the key to having a good working relationship—and that’s critical to your success at work.

By Rose Truesdale
Updated April 05, 2018
Woman Talking to Her Boss
Credit: SeventyFour/Getty Images

No matter what your industry, your relationship with your manager affects your personal performance, your team’s success, and your overall happiness. And as with any relationship, it all comes down to communication. Fill your boss in when any of the following statements ring true for you so you show your stuff as a leader and build professional trust.

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Woman Talking to Her Boss
Credit: SeventyFour/Getty Images

1 “It’s My Fault.”

There’s nothing scarier than owning up to a mistake, as demonstrated by the fact that many employees are quick to play the blame game. But holding yourself accountable is not only courageous, it’s an essential part of leadership: failure is an opportunity to grow, after all. A good manager understands that, and wants to know when missteps occur so you can both learn from them.

2 “This is Preventing Me From Doing My Job Well.”

So you’ve got a problem. Maybe a conflict with a coworker is keeping you from meeting deadlines. Maybe you don’t have the resources you need to complete a major project. If something outside of your control is impeding your performance, it’s your responsibility to let your boss know. Otherwise, you’re left with subpar work, unhappy clients, and a manager wondering why you didn’t do your job.

3 “I’m Dealing With a Personal Problem.”

Depending on your office culture, you may not be in a position to share just anything with your boss. However, if you’re dealing with the kind of personal issues that leave you crying in your cubicle for days on end, it’s appropriate to let your boss know what’s going on. A simple--“Just to let you know, I’m going through a breakup/ my pet died/ my dad’s sick, and I’m not quite myself”--will allow your manager to give you the space you need during a difficult time.

4 “Here’s What I’m Working On.”

Don’t assume your boss knows what’s on your to-do list. She’s probably pretty busy balancing her own pile of projects. And while she wants to know how your projects are coming along, she doesn’t necessarily have time to ask. What’s more, when you keep her informed, she can pass along your achievements to her boss… so let her brag about you!

5 “I Want to Take on More Work.”

If you have the bandwidth and enthusiasm for more work, by all means, let your boss know. This way when she’s prioritizing her own work and needs to offload a project, she’ll think of you. You’ll have the opportunity to wow her with your talent and know-how, and she’ll be relieved to know you have her back.