Quiz: Can You Read Between The Lines When Your Boss Talks?

boss talks what really means

By Susan Ricker

As your boss walks by your cubicle, she casually mentions that the team is getting pizza for lunch. But you know that she's really saying, "Nobody's getting a raise this year." Understanding your boss's communication style will save you from sleepless nights of trying to decode her conversations. Take this quiz to see if you can interpret what your head honcho's really trying to say.1. 'Let me focus on big-picture ideas; you execute the details.'

A. "I want to goof off this afternoon, and you seem like you know more about this."
B. "I'll be taking credit for your work after the project is complete."
C. "Do all the work but don't be surprised when I criticize you anyway."
D. "Let's discuss my vision and the steps you can take to make this happen."

2. 'I'll be out of the office this afternoon, but you can reach me on my cell phone.'

A. "I'm playing hooky, but if anything funny happens, call me."
B. "I'm golfing and will ignore your phone calls."
C. "I have important things to do, and if you try to call me, I'll fire you."
D. "You'll be fine working on your own, but reach out if you need help."

3. 'We're going to be staying late the next couple of weeks.'

A. "My home life stinks. Let's all hang out so I don't have to go home."
B. "I'll still be going home at 4 p.m., and that means you need to pick up my work."
C. "The new hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., permanently."
D. "Everybody will be staying later for a few weeks to get this new project done."

4. 'I'll think about it.'

A. "I don't know what we're talking about; I need to find somebody who does."
B. "Let me figure out a way to steal this idea."
C. "I'm doing something more important right now than listening to you."
D. "Send me a follow-up email detailing your idea."

5. 'It's good to see you take the initiative.'

A. "Now I have less work to do."
B. "You remind me of me."
C. "Finally, you're doing something on your own."
D. "It's good to see you take the initiative."

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Mostly A's: When actor Steve Carrell's character Michael Scott left "The Office," did he join your company? Your boss prefers water cooler talks to board meetings and YouTube videos to PowerPoint presentations. While this managing style can make work more fun, it adds extra steps to getting feedback. Your best bet: Don't get frustrated with your boss's tendency to goof off. Instead, focus on maintaining a positive and friendly relationship. If you two have a jovial relationship, it will be easier to keep him focused when a serious issue arises.

Mostly B's: How many Donald Trump books does your boss have on his shelves? Your boss's role model may be a narcissistic business mogul, but there are advantages to working for such an ambitious manager. In order to create a successful working relationship, subtly model yourself after your boss. If he stops seeing you as competition or as a steppingstone to further his career, you can benefit from his ruthless business practice. Back up his hard-nosed decisions, and show you're there to help, not to get in the way. He'll expect perfection from you, so be firm about what you will and won't do for the team.

Mostly C's: Does the devil wear Prada at your office? This cold and condescending boss is never satisfied with her team's work. What can you do if you're set up for failure? Reject her negative attitude. It's doubtful that your boss will change her ways, so accept that she'll never be satisfied and instead set your own realistic goals. Listen to what your boss's vision is, and execute it the best you can. When she's disappointed in your finished project because she swears she gave you different directions, apply that feedback to your next assignment.

Mostly D's: Who wouldn't love to work for your boss? She supports your ideas, challenges you to work harder and gives you tools to succeed. Take advantage of every opportunity to impress her by taking initiative, working on projects independently and collaborating well with team members. Your boss is setting you up to be a star employee, so make the most of her mentorship.

Susan Ricker is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

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