Administrative Assistants: How to Communicate Better with Your Boss

October 18, 2021


administrative assistant communicating with her boss
Getting to know your boss gives you clarity on how and where to take initiative.

Most people generally think of speech when they think of communication, but communication is multimodal. Every worker should have effective communication with their boss, but for an administrative assistant, it’s possibly even more crucial. So much of an assistant’s job revolves around communication, and how you communicate will prove to be a crucial factor in your success. These simple steps will help you to communicate effectively and strategically to get the most out of your work relationships.

Create a Good Relationship

You have likely heard the quote, “What you put into a relationship is exactly what you get out of it.” This is true for any relationship, and the relationships we keep with our bosses are some of the most important. This relationship determines whether work will be something to look forward to or something that we dread. 

Getting to know your boss, their priorities, and preferences offers you clarity on how and where to take initiative—and load-lift in a significant way. Similarly, allowing your boss to get to know you will allow them the same clarity about your skills and capabilities. This fosters trust in the long run, allowing your boss to focus on their work and not worry about yours. When you have a good connection, communication happens more easily and naturally.

Know the Best Method of Communication

Everyone will have a preferred way of receiving information, but the preferred way isn’t always the most effective way. There are “readers” and “listeners”, and each absorbs information more effectively in different ways. Other factors also need to be considered, like if your boss’ schedule doesn’t always allow for one-on-one time, or if they prefer to communicate over the phone rather than through email. Knowing which category your boss fits into and their preferred style of communication at work will help you determine how to speak up.  

Stay on the Same Page

On a daily or weekly basis, take time for a one-on-one meeting or catch-up. Share a few priority tasks you’re working on as well as what’s coming up, and find out what your boss’s priority projects are. This is a great time to ask questions, give updates, and share concerns. Maintaining an open line of communication keeps you both in the loop with each other and allows for honest and transparent communication.

Be a Productive Communicator

Acknowledging that everyone’s time is valuable is very important, and should always be considered in the workplace—especially when speaking with your boss. Avoid interrupting your boss’ work with a question you just ran into this morning. Instead, take time to organize your thoughts and consider which questions can only be answered by your boss. Then, think about the desired outcome. When you do speak with your boss, be as concise and clear as possible, and stay on topic. This way you’ll get the most out of your conversation and increase your mutual productivity. 

Communicate by Acting

Being willing to receive any type of feedback—and proceeding to act on it—shows your willingness to grow and excel at your job. Remember that feedback isn’t criticism and the best response is to devise solutions and problem-solve. Be willing to give feedback, too. An assistant is privy to many things that their higher-ups aren’t, and can often offer valuable insight about the challenges in the business which need attention. Make sure to offer facts, not opinions or conclusions, and supply suggestions that will lead to results. Doing this shows your value. While knowing the proper language to use demands tact, it will build your boss’ confidence in you.

The many duties of an administrative assistant are often not fully understood, and can even be overlooked by our bosses. Assistants tackle many tasks to ensure everything runs smoothly; often bosses are too busy with their own work to take the time to understand all of the work their assistants are doing. This problem can be exacerbated by working remotely, making communication even more essential. Creating time and building the foundation for open and efficient dialogue between you and your boss will make work more enjoyable and lead to further opportunities.

Learn more about successful assistant-to-executive communication, in our Assertive Communication article, as well as other workplace skills on

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