You can’t get your Bad Boss to listen to you--no big surprise, there. However, there are times when you really need your Bad Boss to hear you, because there’s just no other way to get what you need.
Alison Green, author of the popular Ask a Manager blog, has some excellent suggestions on how to talk to your boss to maximize your chances of actually being heard:
“Pay attention to your boss's communication preferences. You might prefer writing lengthy reports, but if your boss prefers a one-page bulleted list or an in-person chat, your preferences will have to make way for hers – at least if you want to increase your chances of a good outcome. It's important to pay attention to how your boss prefers to communicate and adapt accordingly. If you learn that she's always harried on Monday mornings and rarely checks her email, or that she rarely has much time to talk unless you schedule a meeting, you can pick the approach most likely to get what you need.
“Be attuned to how much information your boss wants. Some bosses want to hear all the background and every option you considered and why. Other bosses just want to hear the basics, and have little patience for the supporting details. And sometimes it varies depending on the context – your boss may not have any interest in hearing about all the options you considered for the new copier, but might care very much about what process you took before recommending a new product line.”
In a nutshell, research your Bad Boss’s communication likes and dislikes before you approach your boss. Pay attention to when your boss has seemed more open to employee requests, and which ones were more successful.
Now you’re in a much better to position to actually get heard!