A "Best Boss" is an Excellent Communicator

Last time we listed the Top 20 “Best Boss” characteristics and asked you to evaluate yourself against the list. Now let’s look at #1 -- a “Best Boss” is an Excellent Communicator.

By excellent communicator we mean that “Best Bosses”:

(1) Send clear, understandable messages to others (2) Listen to understand the meaning behind the messages sent by others.

So, how do they do it?

Communication Roles

It is helpful to think about effective communication in terms of roles.


The talker is attempting to communicate some intended meaning to the listener with:

(1) What is said (words) (2) How it is said (tone of voice, body language, etc).

What is said

Best bosses use words that are easily understood by the listener or are effectively defined to allow for understanding. They don’t leave room for misunderstanding because they know that misunderstanding can lead to failure.

How it is said

Best Bosses know that how you say something may be even more important than the words that are actually used. The way words are said communicates much of the intent of the message.

Interpretation of intent can impact motivation, so Best Bosses try to help the listener interpret by:

- Showing energy - Maintaining appropriate eye contact - Using appropriate facial expressions.


Excellent communicators take the time to listen so that they completely understand others. This is especially true when:

- Helping another person solve a problem - Giving an assignment.

Best Bosses want to make certain that their instructions have been clearly understood so that the employee has the best opportunity to succeed. They don’t make the assumption that all of the message got through to the listener.

Do you Validate?

Really good communicators always “validate” that the message is clear. They don’t just ask “Do you understand?”. Most of the time the listener will say “yes” whether they really understand or not. They might think they understand or they may know they don’t and don’t want to look foolish in the moment.

Best Bosses may say something like:

“I want to make sure that we have covered everything so can you review for me what you are going to do, please?”

This simple question will communicate respect and either:

- Validate understanding or - Clarify what the employee didn’t hear or didn’t understand.

Best Bosses want to make sure that they are not inferring that the listener has failed but rather to communicate that their primary desire is success for the listener.

Tools for Listening

“Best Bosses” attempt to understand the real meaning behind what others are saying by:

(1) Showing interest through appropriate eye contact, posture, facial expression, and other aspects of body language. (2) Not interrupting the speaker to judge what they are saying, but only to ask clarifying questions. (3) Paraphrasing to better understand and also to communicate a desire to understand exactly what the person is saying and, when appropriate, why they are saying it. Using empathic reflection to gain understanding of emotions that could be part of the talkers message.

In other words, “Best Bosses” and good listeners in general do what is necessary to respectfully understand the meaning and the intent underlying the talker’s message.

The “Best Boss” Bottom Line

Through the use of these communication skills “Best Bosses” attempt to facilitate discussions rather than dominate them. This leads to greater success for their employees and more caring relationships with those around them.