Getting along with your boss is one thing. Genuinely bonding with them is another.
But it turns out that forging a strong relationship with your supervisor can be good for your career. Those who feel ambivalent about their relationships with their higher-ups are more likely to perform worse at work, according to one 2017 study.
Fostering a real connection with your boss does require opening yourself up at work, but there’s a fine line between being your authentic self and oversharing. It helps to know what you should — and shouldn’t — talk to your boss about.
3 Topics Worth Sharing With Your Boss
1. Health Accommodations You May Need
Cluing your boss into any mental or physical health issues you may be facing could help you get the support you need so you can do your best work. Furthermore, the Americans With Disabilities Act protects against workplace discrimination based on health status, so there’s relatively little risk that sharing this information could be used against you.
According to multigenerational workplace expert Lindsey Pollak, there’s a way to share your health information with your boss without divulging every personal detail.
“Be mindful and deliberate that you’re not bringing someone a problem you’re asking them to solve, but a solution,” she says. “For example, [you could say something like], ‘I’m breastfeeding and need to pump twice a day for 20 minutes. I’m going to come in 20 minutes early to make up for that time, or I will respond to emails and be available while I’m pumping.’”
2. Parts of Your Life That Won’t Make Your Boss Squeamish
Fifty-five percent of managers say they’ve heard inappropriate conversations in the workplace having to do with personal relationships and dating, according to Udemy’s “2019 Workplace Boundaries Report.” Steer clear of talking about your romantic life with your boss. Reminiscing about your weekend escapades probably isn’t a good idea, either.
“You can bond and talk about your personal life, but limit it to the topics you’re comfortable with,” Pollak says. “You don’t have to share about your divorce or bad relationship. … You can share about something like your mutual love of baseball instead.”
3. Work-Related Challenges
Having a tough time cracking a work challenge? Don’t be afraid to ask your boss for their input. Whether you need clarification on a project or help troubleshooting a problem, admitting you need some guidance doesn’t mean you’ll be perceived as stupid. In fact, Harvard Business School research suggests that asking for advice might actually make you appear more competent.
4 Topics to Avoid Bringing Up With Your Boss
1. Negative Things About Past Employers
“In general, you don’t want to be seen as a negative person who is critical of former employers, colleagues, and bosses,” Pollak says. “The [boss’s] assumption is going to be, ‘If you’re badmouthing them, someday you’re going to bad mouth me.’”
Obviously, you also want to avoid shining a negative light on your current workplace — but that is sometimes easier said than done. Thirty percent of workers surveyed by Office Pulse in 2019 said their bosses had actually probed them for workplace gossip. If you find yourself in this scenario, tread lightly and redirect the conversation to a more neutral ground. Continue reading here…