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Does your boss really listen to you?

Do you have enough influence on the decisions made by your boss? Or would you like to have more? Think about it, bosses are often even busier than you are, with more competing priorities demanding their attention. If you want to influence your boss, you better make sure that you use her time wisely.


When I was a ‘boss’ during my corporate years, I experienced a big difference in the impact people were making. Drawing from this and my current experience as an external business coach, let me share six pitfalls to avoid when you’re trying to influence your boss:

  1. Going unprepared, not knowing your numbers, or using the wrong numbers. No entrepreneurial spirit and getting into long discussions.
  2. Only trying to solve your own issues, and not placing yourself in the shoes of the other person. Losing sight of the big picture.
  3. Only describing things, rather than making proposals and using arguments how this moves the needle in the right direction.
  4. Pleasing behaviours. Telling you what they think you want to hear.
  5. Asking for a lot of their time. Avoid being high maintenance.
  6. Chaotic approach. Coming across as not being in control.

Trusted advice

But at the same time, every boss needs trusted advice! Also, from their own colleagues. In my role as an external advisor, it’s sometimes easier to give my opinion (it also helps that I’m Dutch I guess ;-)), but also because it’s in my role and I’m not a permanent member of the organisation.

If we want to learn how to make more impact, we can rely on the work from Aristotle. Although it’s written in 350 BC, it’s timeless. If you want to convince anyone, including your boss!, make sure you address these three elements.

  1. Invest in trust (ethos)
  2. Touch emotions, using stories and anecdotes (pathos)
  3. Present your idea in a logical way (logos), present three scenarios for instance to discuss and choose from



In other words, make sure that you address the heart and the mind. And invest in building a relationship based on trust. Honour this, and your chances will increase to sell your ideas. For many of us, the word selling triggers strong emotions. But I deliberately use it. Many of us underestimate the importance of selling. Like it or not, we are all in sales regularly! My challenge for you: if you want your boss to listen even better to you: deeply accept that you are sometimes the salesperson. The quicker you accept this, the faster you can start to develop this muscle.

And for all those situations where our boss is not buying from you;.... take a deep breath, ask for some feedback, learn, move forward and make peace with what you cannot sell! 


Hope this inspires.


Paul P.J. Donkers


Paul P.J. Donkers is a sought-after global business coach and entrepreneur. More about his work and projects can be found via and via

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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