There’s most likely been a time each of us has had to deal with a boss whose intentions weren’t quite clear — whether it was at a current job or that junky retail job you had in high school. It’s especially troubling having to decipher every interaction with them, wondering each time if there’s some hidden meaning behind what they’re saying, if they have a plan against you, and if they even like you. It’s easy to see how damaging this type of relationship can be, no matter which way the feelings go. A new study now finds it’s important to move past this mystery in the interest of simply doing a good job at work.

Based on his new study, lead investigator Fadel Matta, a management researcher at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business, believes that “seeing eye to eye about the employee-supervisor relationship is equally, if not more important than the actual quality of the relationship,” he said in a statement. Even if it’s a poor quality relationship, the fact that both manager and subordinate can be honest with each other is enough to form mutual respect, and in doing so, it motivates both to focus on their work while taking stress — at least what’s not work-related — out of the workplace.

Studies have shown that these poor relationships cause stress, and subsequent symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure, memory loss, and substance abuse. A study from July, which took place in Norway, found that managers who had good relationships with their subordinates were far less stressed. Meanwhile, another, slightly older study, found a total of 26 percent of employees said problems with supervisor was a “somewhat significant” or “very significant” factor causing work-related stress. (Of course, other factors such as “undefined job expectations” and job insecurity were rated as more pressing, but people obviously see that problems with their bosses create a stressful environment.)

For the study, Matta looked at how 280 employees — coming from a range of industries, including automotive, retail, and finance — felt about their bosses and vice-versa. The team interviewed each person without letting the other know about their feelings, and came to the conclusion that motivation was higher when both leveled with each other. “Some people would say it’s better to fake it, but our results indicate the opposite is true,” Matta said. “At the end of the day, it’s better for everyone to know where they stand, and how they feel about each other.”

Source: Matta F, Koopman J, Scott B, Conlon D. Does Seeing "Eye To Eye" Affect Work Engagement and OCB? A Role Theory Perspective on LMX Agreement. Academy of Management Journal. 2014.