Top Things Your Boss Wants To Hear You Say

Looking to make a good impression with a new boss or improve your relationship with your current manager? Try adding a few of these powerful phrases into your conversations we found on LinkedIn.

Listen below to Amanda & Matt talk to an actual boss.

  1. How can I help?
    This is probably the number one thing managers like to hear. (The opposite would be, “That’s not my job.”) It shows you’re a team player and willing to pitch in, even outside your specific job duties.
  2. Not a problem.
    When your manager asks you to do something, be positive about it. Make her feel confident that you’ll address the task without her having to micromanage.
  3. I’d like to learn more.
    Indicating to your boss that you’re interested in things outside your area of expertise is a great way to show that you’re serious about moving up in the company or your career. It shows ambition and even an understanding of your own shortcomings, which is appealing when you’re willing to address them.
  4. How can I improve?
    This is especially useful in performance reviews, but can be used any time. It shows that you’re open to constructive criticism. And if you take it to heart and make changes, even better.
  5. I’ll take the lead on that.
    Volunteering shows initiative and leadership skills, both things managers look for in valuable employees.
  6. I love my job.
    Now there’s something we probably don’t say enough! Even if you don’t love everything about your job, you can probably pick a couple of things you could mention to your boss. Who doesn’t like enthusiastic workers?
  7. Here’s how we can solve that problem.
    Solutions are powerful. If you come to your boss and say, “Here’s the problem. We can do X, Y, and Z to solve it, and I think we should do Z because…” you’re showing initiative and creative thinking. Even if your choice of solution isn’t the one he goes with, he’ll be impressed that you thought about it instead of just bringing the problem to him.
  8. No.
    It’s actually a good idea to set solid boundaries and say no every once in a while. Be polite, of course, but a good boss will respect that you are trying to maintain those clear boundaries.
  9. I saw this needed to be done, so I did it.
    I think this phrase is music to everyone’s ears! Bosses love people who are self-driven and don’t need a lot of micro-managing. In addition, if it’s not technically “your job” but it needs to be done — including everything from changing the toner cartridge to filing paperwork — you’ll earn extra points.
  10. Here’s an idea…
    A good manager will welcome new ideas, just be sure to pitch them at the appropriate time. A staff meeting where everyone is brainstorming new ideas? Great time. A client meeting where you’re presenting a proposal? Maybe not the best time.
  11. I wanted to talk to you before I book my vacation.
    Here’s something almost every boss hates: being told you’ve booked your flights to Aruba without talking to him first. Instead, go to her before you buy the tickets and let her know when you want to go and how you plan to have your workload handled while you’re gone.
  12. Let me show you.
    When describing a complex situation or problem, it’s great to have good visuals to make understanding simple. This is especially true with any data-heavy presentations you might need to give.
  13. I’ll get that done by…
    Specificity is definitely something bosses appreciate. If you can say exactly when and how you will deliver something, that’s very useful to the manager trying to manage expectations from her boss and other team members. Of course, be sure to keep your word, or this is meaningless!
  14. What I hear you saying is…
    This is an active listening technique where you repeat back what you understood from what your boss said to you. You may feel a little silly at first, but it demonstrates that you were listening and actually comprehended what is being asked of you — and bosses love being understood.
  15. That was a mistake, but next time…
    Managers appreciate an employee who not only owns his mistakes, but also understands how to make sure they don’t happen again. When admitting to a mistake, be sure to follow it with a comment about how to avoid a similar situation in the future, to show you’ve learned from the gaffe.
  16. I could use some mentoring.
    Managers are usually eager to be seen as experts, and most will be glad to give advice on how best to prepare to advance in the company or your career. Even just asking for the advice can make your boss feel valued.
  17. I agree.
    Everyone loves to have their ideas validated, even your boss. Don’t take this to an extreme and become a “yes man,” but when you do genuinely agree with your boss’ opinion or ideas, say so.
  18. I see what you’re saying. I was thinking of it this way…
    When you do disagree with your boss, be respectful; don’t call him out and say he’s wrong (especially in front of other people) but don’t be afraid to make your ideas heard, either. Anyone is more likely to take dissenting views into consideration when they’re presented calmly and politely.
  19. How’s your day going?
    Don’t forget: your boss is human! She has good days and bad days, too. When appropriate, try taking a genuine interest in how she’s doing or how things she cares about — kids, hobbies, sports teams — are doing as well. Make a personal connection.
  20. Thanks.
    A good boss will thank his or her employees for a job well done, but who thanks the boss? If you’ve gotten help with a problem, good advice, or valuable feedback, say thank you! It might just make your boss’ day.

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