my boss doesn't communicate

My Boss Doesn’t Communicate – Dealing with Aloof People in the Workplace

My Boss Doesn’t Communicate

Dealing with an uncommunicative boss can be quite a challenge. It is hard to read what he’s thinking, or get much direction from him. How do deal effectively when your boss doesn’t converse?  In this case study, my boss doesn’t communicate, we’ll explore 3 strategies.  We’ll share our thoughts on how to deal with aloof people so you can handle things effectively if you encounter this challenge.

The Situation

You work in a technical industry as project manager. Your boss, Darin, is in charge of several time-sensitive projects at any given time.

Your Boss is Uncommunicative

And that’s the problem. While Darin has been an innovative problem-solver for the company, he is not good at communicating. Now that’s he’s an executive, he exhibits an aloof Q2 managerial style, feeling more comfortable with the technical aspects of his field than the people he works with.

For example, he recently assigned your team a high-priority project that needed to be completed “yesterday.” Your team performed very well and made the tight deadline. However, you didn’t get any feedback about it from him. As is often the case, he just moved on — no review, “attaboys,” lessons learned, or ways to improve future performance. You figure that, if pressed, Darin would say, “I didn’t say anything because it went okay. What do you want, a medal?”

You feel it’s not fair to your team to get such poor feedback. It hurts morale and is a demotivator for the next project. You’ve even heard of some team members complaining to their spouse that my boss does not communicate.

Meeting Time with the Boss … What’s the Plan?

To be Q4 proactive, you ask Darin for a meeting to discuss communication and performance feedback. How should you handle this meeting with your boss?

Dimensional Model of Behavior

Your Choices:

Click the best answer below. Our answer will then highlight with an explanation below.
A. Be as friendly as possible to help Darin break out of his closed-mouth demeanor. If you can get your boss to feel more comfortable with you, he’ll start communicating better.

 No, please try again.

B. Submit agenda items in advance about establishing feedback procedures and debriefings. Back up your concerns with facts and information. Stay objective and specific about what you want the meeting to accomplish.

How to Deal with Aloof People – Best Communication Strategies

When your boss doesn’t communicate, what are some strategies for handling the situation?

Be Friendly. Making the Boss Feel Comfortable Will Loosen Him Up

Option A, taking the sociability route, might work with a Q3 amiable boss. But then you probably wouldn’t have the my boss doesn't communicate problem with that kind of supervisor.

Darin’s background and experience have de-emphasized the need for developing social skills. Your adopting a Q3 demeanor for this meeting is not likely to change his outlook. In fact, you might make Darin feel so awkward that he disengages.

Remember, you cannot make your boss be receptive to your goal. What could change his behavior, however, is to use objective information and a problem-solving structure for the meeting that would appeal to his technical, methodical outlook. See Answer B for a strategy that plays into his comfort zone.

Submit Agenda in Advance. Have a Clear Goal, and Facts to Support Your Case

Option B is the soundest because it adapts your approach to Darin’s technical orientation. You are not confronting your boss about his behavior. You shouldn’t try to change his approach to people in one meeting. Rather, you are engaging him in his comfort zone.

The proposed agenda gives Darin a head’s up about what you would like to discuss, so he will be more open to having a dialogue. You are staying on a level that should be in his wheelhouse: objective information, facts, and specific outcomes you would like to achieve.

An aloof boss like Darin may never take part in warm-hearted discussions. But you have a good shot at his realizing the benefits of providing timely, detailed feedback at the end of projects. In fact, a tangible takeaway from the meeting could be a set of procedures for better communicating, or a form that might be used for feedback each time.

Lay Out Benefits and Consequences

Normally, benefits and consequences can be a powerful persuader when making a case for behavior change. However, it is too early for these, especially when you’re trying to engage the boss. It’s better to provide information and discuss your process before providing a list of benefits.

But what really hurts this choice is using a threat as a consequence statement. Your boss hasn’t seen fit to empathize with you or your team so far. Why do you think implying that you would change your job will change Darin's reaction? If you’re bluffing, you might find yourself out of work. And that’s not using your Q4 influencing skills very effectively.

Choice C is not a good strategy for how to deal with aloof people.

C. Provide a benefits assessment of why Darin should give better feedback around projects. Equally important, explain that, as a consequence for his lack of support or feedback, you may try to be reassigned.

 No, please try again.

Beyond Bosses Who Don’t Communicate – Next Project

Congratulations on mastering my boss doesn’t communicate, how to deal with aloof people. If you are eager for more, check out our additional people leadership tips and our Do You Work with a Difficult Person behavioral questionnaire for actionable suggestions.

Once you feel like you have laid a good foundation and acquired leadership skill knowledge, we invite you to take the next step: Putting your skills into action. To help you be successful there, we have a variety of leadership development tools to support you in being an optimally successful people leader.

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