Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Most people apply this common strategy when trying to find a new job, but many forget how important this strategy is even after you’re seasoned in your position. Not only is it important to build relationships with your peers, but it is even more important to nurture a healthy and genuine relationship with your boss. When you really think about it, you should view your boss as a mentor (if you don’t, reconsider whether or not the company is for you). Much like a mentor, your boss can introduce you to people and ideas that you will value in later years of your career, they can help you find a position that better embodies who you are (who knows, they may create a new job title for you within the company), and you can learn a lot from them! The rest of this article will give you pointers on how to have a relationship with your boss that is not awkward, intimidating or forced, and what inappropriate things to steer clear of to keep you in good standing.

• Be yourself
Just like in every other aspect in life, you are enough. Don’t try to make jokes if you had to practice it all night, and don’t try to seem smarter than you are.

• Don’t make small talk
Let’s be honest, everybody hates small talk. It’s forced and often without substance. Make any and all conversations with your boss meaningful and worthwhile.

• Express your ideas
Speak up in meetings about things you like or dislike. This shows that you have your own opinion, can implement your own ideas, and actually are paying attention. You also should take time to brainstorm for every meeting so you have something to input.

• Ask for help, insight, and even criticism
Empower your boss by asking them their thoughts. Show them that they matter, and that you’re eager to learn from them.

• Don’t be ashamed to have a good relationship with your boss
While it may seem frowned upon by your peers, it’s okay to like your boss, and to value having a relationship with them.

• Be human
Be sick, have a family, request a personal day to get errands completed. Show your boss that you are a human being, not a worker bee, and he/she will respect you as such.

• Take criticism like a grain of salt emotionally, but not professionally
Your boss gave you some advice, and if you value their opinion, try and apply it so they see that you respect their opinion and truly want to improve. Don’t get upset about it, it’s making you better!

Steer Clear of…

• Giving input on other coworkers

Try to remain subjective regarding your peers’ work ethics, who should be promoted, etc. You want your boss to know that you aren’t building a relationship with them to gossip on others.

• Keep the friendship professional
Always be respectful around your boss and carry yourself maturely. Don’t cross boundaries that could jeopardize your job!

• No sucking up
Don’t try to win your boss over with daily coffee, extravagant gifts, and always siding with them. Again, just be yourself!

Hopefully implementing these tips on the job will help you feel more comfortable speaking with your boss and creating a unique relationship with them. You never know what doors it could open for you professionally!