Sunday, Jun 7, 2020
HomeTalking Tips Building rapport with your boss without kissing up

Building rapport with your boss without kissing up

A good relationship with your boss is extremely important to your professional advancement and sanity. We spend too many hours at work to subject ourselves to a tension-filled relationship with the person to whom we report.

It is empowering to know that we can influence the way others respond to us. Some people try flattery, buying coffee and gifts to get in their bosses’ good graces. However, rapport is a mutual respect, and being a kiss up does not usually create that. Here are five tips to build genuine rapport with your boss.

Shift your attention. Find a few things you appreciate, admire or can learn from your boss. Even if no one else wants to work with this person, I promise, if you look you can find some redeeming qualities. No one is all bad. This is important, because the law of attraction dictates “Whatever we focus on expands”. Neuroscience has proved that our brains will bring to the fore whatever we place our attention on. If you get a red car for example, suddenly you will notice how many red cars there are. They have always been there, you just never noticed them. That is your reticular activation system at work. This is why if you look for something of value in your boss, you will find it. Shift your attention and move to the next tip.

Shift the way you view the situation. If your boss is a beast to work with, maybe there is a lesson life is trying to teach you. Instead of allowing yourself to be frustrated and angry, decide you are going to master the lesson. If you win with this difficult person you will feel invincible!

Shift your objective. If you ask people what their workplace goal is, they will often say they want to be a good employee. That is not a bad thing, however, if you shift your objective to being a great support to your senior you will communicate differently. I have seen it work. I had a client whose boss was at his wit’s end. He said if this employee did not change, he was going to fire him. I was asked to work with this person whom the boss said was good at his work, but he took issue with the way he communicated. I encouraged the employee to shift his attitude from being good at his job to being a great support to his boss. It changed the way he expressed himself. He began to do the following:

Defer. In this situation, to defer means to recognize who is the boss and let them know you accept that. Instead of telling your manager you have a better idea, ask them if they are open to an additional approach. Instead of coming across as if you know you are smarter, let them know, thanks to their direction, you came up with a possible solution that may help meet the objective. For example, “I thought about what you said, and based on your direction I have an idea.” Focusing on doing your job well without deferring may be construed as competition. Use questions instead of statements.

Match their style. If your boss talks fast and does not like long, drawn-out explanations, speed up your speech and give her bullet points. If she likes details, give her details. People trust people they can identify with. If you want to build rapport, which is mutual respect, learn to mirror their communication style. This is equivalent to speaking their language.

If you would like personalized coaching to help you to communicate for career advancement and business success, contact me about my small group coaching session which begins April 11.


• Kim Welcome is the CEO of Influential Voice. A communication trainer and coach, she assists businesses and professionals to achieve their goals by helping them to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills. Contact: or call 242-225-9013.




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