One of the most nerve-wracking experiences on the job can be facing a conflict with your boss. Most people go out of their way to avoid this situation, and don’t know how to handle it if it occurs.
However, while some bosses may be autocratic and expect their employees to hold their tongue and blindly follow them, others appreciate a backbone and welcome a healthy debate.
Whether you are at odds with your superior over strategies for the direction of the company, the treatment of your own subordinates, or a personal issue, there is a healthy way to work out the conflict with these tips.
Be Respectful – Different office cultures create a multitude of relationships between bosses and employees. Whether you are comfortable and relaxed with your boss or are professional and courteous, it is important to always show respect when dealing with a conflict. Even if you are comfortable with your superior, not showing enough deference or pushing your own agenda too far can make that person angry.
Don’t Shy Away – Many individuals are so scared of facing conflict with their boss that they back down right away and never speak their mind. This usually serves no purpose to the company or the chief as the opinion never gets heard. Gather up your strength and speak your mind in an intelligent and concise way to make your voice heard. Not speaking up will never make the problem go away, however there is a bigger chance that the issue will escalate and get worse.
Present Arguments – The winner of any healthy debate is the one who presents the best arguments. Therefore, it is good to be prepared for this situation and come up with sound and reasonable points to back up your point of view. There are many times when a person can be right, but not being able to present his or her point of view in the right manner prevents others from seeing their point.
Read the Cues – A conflict with a boss is a unique situation, and different than facing issues with colleagues. This individual is directly responsible for your employment, which requires you to be very careful when resolving any issues or problems. While it’s important to face the problem head on, and speak your mind, it’s equally as vital to read the person’s cues to see how far you can go. If you see that your boss is looking annoyed (rolling his eyes, checks the clock) or uncomfortable (backs away, crosses her arms), you may need to reconsider your strategy.
Accept Defeat – Because a relationship with your superior is not an equal one, with him or her holding more power, you need to be prepared to hear a “no,” and accept defeat. Obviously, if the issue is too important to you, this may not be acceptable. However, you need to tread very carefully, as not being ready to back down may cost you your job.
A conflict with your boss doesn’t have to be avoided at all costs. Most employers welcome challenges as it offers innovation and sheds light on possible problems that need to be addressed. Just remember to follow the five tips above to solve it in a healthy and respectful way.
Senior Trainer & Consultant