4 Phrases Your Boss Wants to Hear

Fact: At some point, every one of us has (or had) a boss.

We wish they had all the answers. It would be ideal if on every rung in the ladder, we could look to our bosses to actually lead us, guide us, and be our mentors.

But managers don’t know everything, and more often than not, they need our help, too. Unfortunately, only the best leaders actually ask for it.

But why wait to be asked? Here are four tiny sentences that every boss is secretly dying to hear you say, and that’ll help you manage up and make both you and your manager shine.

1. “I’ve Got This”

Maybe your manager has a few bosses of her own who have just joined on. These new players are demanding, and she may not know how to manage them and their requests. Projects she used to oversee—like the ones you work on—may not be her top priority right now, nor might she be the best person to guide you. So, what do you do? Easy. You tell her “I’ve got this.”

Why it Matters

A great boss knows that to succeed, she has to set priorities—which means she has to hand them off to someone else. Letting her know you will own this might give her the confidence she needs to let you run with it. And then you have an opportunity to flash your best work.

2. “It’s My Responsibility”

Too often people are either not held accountable or refuse to be, pointing the finger elsewhere. Usually, there’s a fear of retaliation if we make a mistake or if we shine a light on what went wrong. (Note: If that’s the culture you’re in, you might want to ask yourself if it’s where you really want to be.) But all things considered, taking responsibility for something you did or raising your hand when you see something that could be potentially damaging to your company is what leaders do.

Why it Matters

At the end of the day, stepping up to own our mistakes shows great character and courage. It’s what every great boss should praise (and not punish) in a direct report.

3. “I Disagree Because…”

Your boss may not always like or agree with what you have to say, but he’s far better off with a team that’s unafraid to speak up, instead of a bunch of “yes” men and women. You were hired for your judgment and counsel. Be respectful but be sure to speak your mind when it serves the company and its goals. True leaders will heed what you say and respect you back.

Why it Matters

Confident leaders won’t make you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells when the truth may hurt; rather, they’ll seek out direct reports they know will always give it to them straight.

4. “Can I Help?”

Why not periodically throw them a life preserver? Asking if you can help is an open-ended invitation to your boss, letting her know you’ve got her back and recognize that her workload is split between delivering to her higher-ups and managing you.

Why it Matters

“Can I help?” is another way of asking “Are you OK?” Letting her know she’s not alone will mean more to her than she may let on and will help you earn her trust as someone she can count on in times of need.

Sometimes, people think it’s “safest” to keep their heads down and say nothing. But, if you want to make a difference where you work, and you believe that what you have to offer can do that, then don’t hesitate to give these phrases a try.
Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you come up with more phrases your boss wants to hear. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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