How to Get Your Boss to Take You Seriously

A common complaint among young professionals is that their bosses don’t take them seriously. While some deal with this by denigrating their bosses and trying to ignore them, others truly want to find ways to be heard and valued.

Here are some facts and suggestions for building credibility.

Fact: Your energy creates a reaction. Some people appreciate high energy and tap into it. Some people are intimidated by it. Some are depressed by it. Most people don’t think much about it, they simply react.

What can you do? Be aware of your energy level and monitor it in different settings. If people seem to be uncomfortable with your rate of speech, quantity of ideas, or general impatience, slow down and quiet down. If you’re bursting with ideas, share them a few at a time. Present them in a way that demonstrates your understanding of current circumstances and respects the roles others play. If you tend to be impetuous in your speech or reactions to others, try waiting a few seconds to organize your thoughts before you respond.

Fact: Your knowledge is limited. This may be hard to accept, but the plain truth is that no matter how smart you are, how good your grades were in school, or how well you manage your independence, your knowledge of the company and its business is relatively undeveloped. To be taken seriously, become a student of the business. Work on contributing relevant information, asking questions to understand what’s going on (not to challenge others), and showing respect in the face of alternative viewpoints.

Fact: Building credibility takes time. You know you have a lot more to offer and your boss may, too. But building credibility takes time. People will watch and listen to you. If you do what you say, make good decisions, act in the best interests of others and not just youself, you will build trust overtime.

Suggestion: Take your work seriously. This may seem like a silly thing to say, but you telegraph your feelings in many ways. If you’re not sure that what you want to say makes sense, wait until you are sure that it does. If you throw out ideas without expecting anyone to pay attention to them, no one will. If, on the other hand, you take time to consider the circumstances you’re in and how your work may impact others, your chances of being positively received are much better.

That said, it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking yourself too seriously. Be willing to acknowledge mistakes, learn from them and let them go. Develop a sense of humor. People are not out to get you, sink your ship, or destroy your career. Sure, some of your colleagues may be hyper-competitive, but that’s their problem. Don’t make it yours. Stay focused on what you’re trying to do and give it your best effort.

Suggestion: Expand your vocabulary. One of the quickest ways to gain positive attention is to speak with confidence and authority. Verbal exchanges at work are generally more formal than in social settings. That’s because they often involve the exchange of factual information, the sharing and vetting of ideas, and decision-making. Brush up your speech. Learn appropriate industry terms so you can use them correctly. Lose the hip slang that has little meaning beyond your social circle.

Suggestion: Mind your mannerisms. A toss of the head, a shrug of the shoulders, a roll of the eyes, and a wave of the hand are almost always perceived as signals of disrespect and dismissal. It’s easy to do these things without thinking; indeed for some they are simply bad habits. If you want to be taken seriously, get rid of them. Enlist someone to give you specific, objective feedback.

Suggestion: Pay attention to your daily habits. The golden rule, “Do unto others,” is worth thinking about. Show courtesy to everyone you meet and you will soon create a reputation as a thoughtful professional worth serious consideration. Pay attention, offer respect, thank people for their time, attention and interest. Focus on what’s right with your job and build on it.

Be patient with yourself and others as you grow in status with your company. It takes time to be accepted, noticed and appreciated. In the meantime, work on taking others seriously. You may be surprised at how quickly the favor is returned.

Categories: General Advice

About Susan Marshall

founder susan marshall

Susan A. Marshall is author, speaker and founder, whose mission is to create a stronger, more confident future, one person or team at a time.  Through personal experience and hands-on work with executives from diverse industries at all levels, Susan has had the privilege of helping thousands of people do the difficult and exhilarating work of growth.