5 Ways to Get Along Better With Your Boss

iStock
iStock

You've got a hunch that you're on the outs with your boss—it could be because of that deadline you missed, or simply because you dared to speak to him or her before they finished their morning coffee. Either way, things are tense, and it could spell trouble for your career. Use these pro tips to get back into your boss's graces.

1. SCHEDULE A TIME TO MEET.

The best way to work through your issues with your boss is to talk things over face-to-face. But don’t spring this meeting on him, because he may take this as an ambush, says Art Glover, director of Human Resources at the Douglas County Libraries. During the talk, approach things tactfully and deferentially. "Talk openly, and say things like, 'I'm feeling like things aren’t working too well, and I want to make sure I’m meeting your needs,'" Glover suggests. Or, "I want to hear what you’d like from me." It sounds simple, but this is an incredibly difficult conversation for some people to have. You may want to practice first.

2. MATCH THEIR COMMUNICATION STYLE.

Your boss could be having a hard time working with you because she likes to skip the details and the chatter and get right to the point, but you’ve been filling her inbox with stories rather than quick one-liners. Or maybe the reverse is true. "Instead of making assumptions about the person, act like a detective as you study their behavior," suggests Christen Bavero, coach at the brand management and executive coaching company ThinkHuman.

"Once you study their behavior, match their communication style,” Bavero says. Do they send just two to three sentences in an email? Or does each email include five paragraphs explaining each process? Do they like to have animated face-to-face meetings that involve conversations about family, or is a quick instant message chat more their style?

3. GET TIPS FROM A TRUSTED CO-WORKER.

Surely your boss gets along with someone. Ask that person what he or she has done to get along with the boss, advises Susan Heathfield, a management and organization development consultant who specializes in human resources issues. Heathfield also recommends asking that person what she thinks you should be doing differently. Maybe the boss confided in that co-worker about you—or maybe she knows that your boss just doesn’t like people who bring tuna fish to work because it stinks up the break room. Really, it could be anything, and your co-worker could know the secret.

4. DON'T ENGAGE.

In moments of real conflict with your boss you need to make sure you don't say something you'll regret. The best way to do this? "Breathe," says Jody Michael, CEO and founder of Jody Michael Associates, an executive and career coaching company with offices in Chicago and Atlanta. "Deep diaphragmatic breathing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to regain your composure. The last thing you want to do is to engage in the frenzy that your boss might be creating, and to say or do something you later regret." Also, she says, remember that your boss is human, which makes him or her vulnerable to pressure and stress. Try to understand the situation from his or her perspective and the factors that might be driving your boss's behaviors.

5. MAKE A CHANGE.

Sorry to break it to you, but your boss might have a good reason for disliking you. Maybe you botched a project or are always late to work. If you are determined to change, then you should apologize for your behavior. If you're sincere, your boss will eventually come around, Glover says. "Generally, we human beings, once we’ve been given negative info, take a little while to see that you’re going to turn that around," he says. "Actions speak louder than words." If your actions are consistently positive, and your boss is a reasonable person, then you should be able to mend the relationship.

6 Fun Backgrounds to Use on Your Next Video Call

You might be stuck in the living room, but it doesn't have to look like it.
You might be stuck in the living room, but it doesn't have to look like it.
Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re struggling to find a perfectly decorated wall in your house to serve as the backdrop for your video calls with friends, family, and coworkers, we have good news: Video conferencing platform Zoom lets you customize your very own virtual background.

To do it, log into your Zoom account, go to “Settings” on the left side of your screen, and choose the "Meeting" tab. Scroll down to the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section, and then scroll down farther to make sure the “Virtual background” option is enabled. After that, open the Zoom application on your desktop, click on the “Settings” wheel in the upper right corner, and go to “Virtual Background.” There are a few automatic options, but you can choose your own image from your computer files by clicking on the plus-sign icon.

Now, the only thing left to do is decide which image will best set the tone for your next video call. From the New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room to Schitt’s Creek’s Rosebud Motel, here are six of our favorites.

1. The Rosebud Motel lobby from Schitt’s Creek

schitt's creek rose motel lobby
It's not the Ritz-Carlton.
CBC

You can imagine that David is just out of frame, doing his best to carry on a silent—albeit with lots of expressive gesturing—conversation with Stevie at the front desk. (More Schitt's Creek backgrounds here.)

2. Carl and Ellie’s house from Up

carl and ellie's house from up
Balloons not included.
Walt Disney Pictures

If you’re hoping to create a calming atmosphere, look no further than the cozy little sitting room where Carl and Ellie grew old together in 2009's Up. (More Pixar backgrounds here.)

3. The attic study from Knives Out

knives out attic study
Nothing bad has ever happened here.
Lionsgate

If your own study isn’t quite teeming with intriguing souvenirs and leather-bound volumes, feel free to borrow this one from the mansion in 2019’s Knives Out. (More Knives Out backgrounds here.)

4. The USS Enterprise from Star Trek

star trek's uss enterprise bridge
A great way to get your coworkers to fess up to being huge Trekkies.
TrekCore.com, Twitter

Blame your spotty internet connection on the fact that you’re traveling through the galaxy at the speed of light with this background from the bridge of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. (More Star Trek backgrounds here.)

5. The New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room

new york public library reading room
You reserve the right to shush any coworkers who forgot to mute themselves.
New York Public Library

Bibliophiles who can’t make it to the library can still pay a virtual visit to the sumptuous Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library’s iconic Fifth Avenue location. (More New York Public Library backgrounds here.)

6. The Werk Room from RuPaul’s Drag Race

rupaul's drag race werk room
Sashay away from the screen if you're taking a bathroom break during the call.
VH1

Dazzle your coworkers by calling in from the vibrant room where all the magic—and most of the drama—happens on RuPaul’s Drag Race. If you happen to be decked out in an ensemble made entirely of things you found at the Dollar Store, even better. (More RuPaul's Drag Race backgrounds here.)

You Can Now Order—and Donate—Girl Scout Cookies Online

It's OK if you decide to ignore the recommended serving size on a box of these beauties.
It's OK if you decide to ignore the recommended serving size on a box of these beauties.
Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts may have temporarily suspended both cookie booths and door-to-door sales to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be deprived of your annual supply of everyone’s favorite boxed baked goods. Instead, you can now order Thin Mints, Tagalongs, and all the other classic cookies online—or donate them to local charities.

When you enter your ZIP code on the “Girl Scouts Cookie Care” page, it’ll take you to a digital order form for the nearest Girl Scouts organization in your area. Then, simply choose your cookies—which cost $5 or $6 per box—and check out with your payment and shipping information. There’s a minimum of four boxes for each order, and shipping fees vary based on quantity.

Below the list of cookies is a “Donate Cookies” option, which doesn’t count toward your own order total and doesn’t cost any extra to ship. You get to choose how many boxes to donate, but the Girl Scouts decide which kinds of cookies to send and where exactly to send them (the charity, organization, or group of people benefiting from your donation is listed on the order form). There’s a pretty wide range of recipients, and some are specific to healthcare workers—especially in regions with particularly large coronavirus outbreaks. The Girl Scouts of Greater New York, for example, are sending donations to NYC Health + Hospitals, while the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have simply listed “COVID-19 Responders” as their recipients.

Taking their cookie business online isn’t the only way the Girl Scouts are adapting to the ‘stay home’ mandates happening across the country. They’ve also launched “Girl Scouts at Home,” a digital platform filled with self-guided activities so Girl Scouts can continue to learn skills and earn badges without venturing farther than their own backyard. Resources are categorized by grade level and include everything from mastering the basics of coding to building a life vest for a Corgi (though the video instructions for that haven’t been posted yet).

“For 108 years, Girl Scouts has been there in times of crisis and turmoil,” Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo said in a press release. “And today we are stepping forward with new initiatives to help girls, their families, and consumers connect, explore, find comfort, and take action.”

You can order cookies here, and explore “Girl Scouts at Home” here.

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