I made it a rule with my employees - never complain unless that complaint comes with your solution. And make your point quickly - no one (least of all the boss) wants to spend long hours hearing someone make the same point over and over again.
James Lukaszewski, author of "Why Should the Boss Listen to You?" and a crisis-management expert, says workers who want to be listened to also need to:
- Understand where the boss is coming from, and the goals he or she may be trying to achieve. "Bosses hear many voices every day," he says. "You have to say something that will matter to them from their perspective."
- Recommend solutions rather than giving orders. Too often employees seeking to be trusted advisers act as if they were entitled to give their opinion and a boss should be obligated to listen.
- Reduce stress and tension. Be the person who can walk into a room and everyone is comfortable you're there, Lukaszewski says. Humor and stories often help ease tension.
- Deliver recommendations in a digestible, usable form. Be brief, positive and constructive.
- Propose incremental solutions. Don't insist that you have the entire answer to a problem, but your suggestion may be part of a solution for your boss. "They want a menu of things to choose from," he says.