How to have the best working relationship possible with your boss

Getting a job for the weekends or after school can be a great thing for a teenager. It might sound cliche, but it does teach you responsibility and, maybe more importantly as a teenager, it gives you a sense of freedom. Earning your own money is rewarding, but not always easy.

Getting out of bed early on the weekends can be a struggle. If, like many teens, you work in a restaurant, you probably have to deal with a constant stream of people.  Plus, during those breakfast and lunch rushes it sometimes seems like it would be easier to curl up and cry than make the dozens of lattes and cappuccinos that are waiting to be made. You come across the rude people who have obviously never worked in the service industry in their lives. You deal with small kids who run around your place of work and make your already-hectic day even more so. And last but not least, of course, you deal with your boss.

Unfortunately you can’t always have an amazing boss like Leslie Knope or Chris Traeger, or have a relationship to your boss that rivals Leslie’s and literally anyone she’s ever worked with. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to live in constant fear of being fired or told off.

So here are my top four tips to help you navigate the tricky waters of interacting with your first boss — because a lot of the time their bark is far worse than their bite.

Always maintain respect.

This may seem extremely obvious but it’s easy to forget in the heat of the moment. Even if your boss has been nagging you all day or you’re nearing the end of an eight-hour shift and you’re feeling a little snappy and fragile, always treat them with respect. They, after all, hired you for the job. They chose you out of dozens (or maybe more) applicants, They wanted you to work here. They’ve probably invested their own time in training you, teaching you the ropes, and introducing you to your coworkers. By showing them your respect, you’re not only showing your gratitude (which you should definitely have because, after all, they did give you an opportunity), but you’re also showing them that you’re a mature person, no matter how old you really are.

Always try your hardest. 

Yet again, this may seem extremely obvious. It probably seems even more obvious than the idea of maintaining respect for your boss, but sometimes when you settle into the routine of your job, this starts to slip away. You should always, no matter how you’re feeling about your job, try your hardest at it. I know it can seem hard, and you might find yourself asking why it’s so important. After all, this isn’t school or the career you want to keep forever, right? But just because this is your dream job, doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, it might actually be your boss’ dream, or at least their career. This is their livelihood, this is what they depend on, they didn’t hire someone who they thought wouldn’t try their hardest. It may not be your dream but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it your all.

When I find myself struggling with the motivation to do my best, I like to think: “What would Leslie Knope do?” She would do her best, no matter what.

Have a positive attitude.

If you work in hospitality, like I do, it can be increasingly difficult as the day goes on to keep that positive attitude up — you can only have so many children throw their food at your feet before it starts to wear on you. However, to quote Monty Python, “Always look on the bright side of life.”

Okay, so you might have to deal with a smattering of difficult people, but you’re always going to find the diamonds in the rough, the extra polite and considerate customers, the ones who tip you more than they should or don’t shout at you when you accidentally spill boiling hot coffee over them. Smiling also helps; it makes you seem less threatening and a lot more open, which leads to your customer being more polite to you in return. Also, I’ve found that positivity is contagious: If you’re smiley and polite to those you’re serving, then they’re more likely to be smiley and positive in return.

This also applies to your boss — if you’re happy and positive towards them, it’s likely to spread, which means they’ll appreciate your positive outlook and reflect it onto you. The result: You and your boss getting along great.

Be reliable.

Like I said before: Your boss hired you for a reason. They put their faith in you to be on time and show up. They do, after all, own the business (or at least manage it). And that’s what it is, it’s a business. They want you to be there because that’s what they’re paying you to do. They want to know that you’ll turn up every week; they want to know that they can count on you. By showing up on time and doing the job you were hired to do, you build respect with your boss. You prove that you’re the kind of person who cares about their commitments and earn yourself the good will to help make up for any honest mistakes (because, hey, we all oversleep every now and again).

(Image via NBC Universal.)