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Tag Archives: Office Interactions

UXL, Margaret Smith, Befriend Your Boss

Let’s face it, the key to achieving many of your career goals (that promotion, that next raise, etc.) is to pass through the office gatekeeper: your boss. Befriending your boss can be a tricky endeavor. You don’t want to seem like a brown-noser or disingenuous. What’s more, your boss might seem distant or guarded, reluctant to make new acquaintances with people from the lower ranks. If that’s the case, you might want to set your sights on making an impression on your boss, rather than a friendship. But, no matter the situation, there are certain steps you can take to become more visible in a positive way in your boss’ eyes.

The key is to approach your boss in a natural, authentic way and treat her like any other human being. The goal is to develop an authentic relationship with another person, not to feel intimidated or uneasy with a superior. Try getting to know your boss like any other person at the office:

  • Say hello
  • Ask about his or her family (and remember family member names when they come up in conversation)
  • Ask about their weekend plans or ask about what they did this past weekend
  • Attend company events and make small talk with your boss
  • Discuss shared interests (but do NOT pretend to like something your boss does just to fit in)

Notice that this list does not include things like “buy him small gifts” or “call her to have coffee.” Those kind of activities tend to cross the boss-employee line (unless, of course, you actually are close friends with your boss OR your boss is the kind of person who enjoys regularly going out for coffee with her employees).

The other way to gain positive attention from your boss is to make your achievements known. Stand out from the crowd by speaking up at meetings, volunteering for extra projects (and delivering excellent results), and involving yourself in extracurricular work events. Make yourself a positive presence—someone who is friendly and inclusive, rather than closed off and self-centered—and you will be noticed. Even if you do not quite reach friendship level with your boss, you can at least make yourself visible and visibility goes a long way toward reaching your career goals.

Are you having trouble with your boss? Not connecting with office leadership? Contact me and we can discuss some potential solutions.


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By Margaret Smith, UXL:

We have all experienced a work life under the tyranny of a thankless and critical boss. Not very much fun, right? Similarly, we have all probably been guilty of being less nice than we could be at work. With these things in mind, I thought it might be useful to share with you the following interesting tidbits from Inc Magazine’s October 2011 issue.

Here’s an Idea: Stop Being a Jerk

1.  Don’t ban the water cooler. “It used to drive me crazy to see people talking about other things at work. Now, I’m glad they’re doing it,” says Jay Steinfeld, founder and CEO of Houston-based As he reminds readers, “you can’t be paranoid and creative at the same time; it’s impossible.” It’s important that people have an opportunity to interact like human beings!

2.  Don’t discount community service. Being an active participant in charity and community service “trains people’s minds to think about improving other people’s lives,” explains Steinfeld. And I couldn’t agree more! What better way to find a place to reinforce your contribution, self-esteem, and sense of worth?

3.  Don’t Ignore the good tries. Responding to the failed attempts of others with anger, disappointment, or lectures often discourages others to avoid trying new things and taking risks (both of which are essential to fostering a spirit of innovation). “Years ago, I would ream out people when they failed,” says Steinfeld. “Now I tell them, ‘Hey, it didn’t work, but I’m pleased you gave it a shot.’ And say it in front of others. I want people to experiment without fear of failure.”

4.  Don’t leave it up to HR. Instead of wiping your hands clean of your contribution to the company culture, realize that it’s completely up to you. “Nothing happens if the top doesn’t agree or even personally care about it,” reminds Steinfeld.

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