Three difficult situations where you have to talk to your boss urgently, and what to say

Es ist Ihre oberste Aufgabe, dem Boss oder Ihrer Chefin den Rücken freizuhalten. Am schwierigsten ist es, diese Regel zu brechen, um eine wichtige Nachricht weiterzugeben. So gehen Sie am besten vor.

Of course you do your best not to disturb your boss during a meeting, when he’s on a business trip, or when he or she simply does not want to be disturbed in order to get on with some work. But sometimes you have no choice. For instance, your boss might be on a business trip or in a meeting when there is a sudden emergency at home or in the office. Here are three difficult scenarios that practically every secretary or PA will have found themselves in …, and tips for what to say when you need to talk to your boss.

1 Your boss is on a business trip to the UK or USA and you can’t reach him or her by mobile phone

Phone the company he is visiting, say who you are, why you are having difficulties and the reason for your call.

  • Hello this is Sandra Schmidt. I’m trying to trace Fabian Müller. I’m his PA and I have a message for him. I’m afraid I can’t reach him on his cell phone (AE) / mobile phone (BE). Do you know where he is right now, or do you have a number I could reach him on?
  • Could you ask him to call me back as soon as he returns? It’s about the Smith contract, and he’ll need to know.

If he can’t be found

  • Could you please ask him to call me back as soon as possible? It’s very important. Here’s my mobile / cell phone number: 4 – 9 for Germany, then 179222222.

2 When you need to disturb your boss during a meeting with international business associates

In an international meeting, always apologise for interrupting in English, even if your boss is German. This way, you are including all the participants in your apology. This is what you can say.

  • I’m sorry to disturb you, but this message just came through. I think you might need to see it.
  • Excuse me for a moment. May I just show you this message?

When your boss has read the message

  • Is there anything you would like me to do right now?
  • Shall I say you’ll call back?
  • Shall I try and find out more?

3 When your boss has asked to be left alone to get on with some difficult work

  • I’m terribly sorry to disturb you. There’s a Mr Jones outside who says he has an appointment to see you.
  • I know you said not to disturb you, but I really think you need to know about this.
  • Sorry, but I have a Mr Smith on the line. He says he has some urgent information about the XYZ contract.