How I long for the '60s! Back in those days, you could receive a free decoder ring inside boxes of select boxes of Captain Crunch cereal!

There were many times throughout my career when I wished I had kept that ring. I could have used it to better understand my boss and our relationship.

Consider me your decoder ring!

When you have a clear sense of where your boss is coming from, you can adjust your expectations and communication style. By doing so, you can achieve a prosperous and peaceful coexistence with one of the most important people in your life — your boss.

Here’s where to begin:

Observe how your boss interacts with others.

Is her management style what I call laissez-faire, where she expects team members to figure things out with little direction? Or is her style more dictatorial, where she gives orders, and people comply? Or does her leadership style lean more towards consultative, where she encourages employees to share their ideas.

Once you’ve determined this, you’ll be able to adjust your work style. By doing so, you’ll have a much more productive relationship with your boss.

It’s also important never to assume that your communication style is aligning with your boss’ needs and style.I see people frequently make this mistake.

For example, they think their boss prefers receiving long-detailed memos or emails from them. They soon learn their boss is no longer reading what they are sending! Or they may text their boss only to find out he’s annoyed by this. He prefers face-to-face communication.

Scan your environment.

Is your boss so busy that she has little time for the details and barely has time for the facts? If so, it’s up to you to adjust your communication style. Provide your boss with a summary of the findings and recommendations of your project. If she wants more detail, she’ll ask!

I’ve worked for a lot of bosses and can tell you this. The best way to know your boss’s preferred communication style is to ask! When doing so, you may need to ask for clarification.

For example, your boss tells you she prefers meeting regularly to discuss ongoing projects. Does this mean she wants to meet weekly, bi-weekly or monthly? It’s best to know this upfront, to ensure you are fully prepared.

Adjust as you go.

You think you’ve got your boss’ style all figured out. And then his evil “twin” brother shows up for work. New versions of the same boss are more common than you might think. Stress impacts behavior.

The boss who used to enjoy chit-chat no longer has time for this and finds it annoying. A leader with a reputation for being easy going is now quite demanding. Pay attention to the social cues your boss is sending and adjust your style accordingly.

No doubt you’ll have many new bosses throughout your career. The sooner you master the skill of decoding your boss, the better off you’ll be.