When you’re super mad at a coworker, you might turn to your boss for help resolving the situation. But what if that coworker is your boss? Should you just pack up your desk and quit your job? If the issue is serious (like, your boss literally hates you), well, maybe. But even if you normally have a great (or at least tolerable) relationship with your boss, there are going to be times when conflicts come up. Instead of taking it personally and lashing out, here are some strategies to restore peace to that super important relationship.
1. Try to read their mind. We don’t mean staring at them from across the office with your fingers to your temples, trying to channel your psychic energy. Instead, do make an effort to understand your boss’s general likes and dislikes in work style. Put yourselves in their head. It’ll help you understand where they’re coming from in a conflict and how to approach the solution.
2. Pump the brakes on that HR trip. If you go running to human resources for every little thing your boss does that you don’t like, it’s going to seem like you’re going behind their back and not making enough effort to actually communicate. Save HR interventions for when it’s an issue that really can’t be resolved, or it’s something extreme like discrimination or abuse.
3. Consider your timing and calculate the risk-reward potential. If your company just got heavy news about layoffs or your boss just found out that her pet program is being cut, you might want to give it a beat before approaching them with your problem. And if speaking up is going to do you more harm than good at the end of the day, consider whether or not whatever’s bothering you is really that serious, or if you can let it go.
4. Use their open-door policy. Your boss probably doesn’t like working under office tension any more than you do. If there’s a problem, take it to them in a mature and respectful manner and explain how it’s affecting you. As long as you steer clear of angry accusations and keep the focus on how a problem impacts your work, they’ll probably appreciate you bringing it up.
5. Offer solutions. If you think the problem at hand is going to affect your company’s bottom line, that’s definitely something your boss should hear about. But don’t just go in and tell them you think their ideas are dumb. Be thoughtful about your complaints and offer your own solution. Slamming a project without any clue about how to fix it isn’t constructive.
6. Don’t do it in front of the entire office. If you start laying into your boss in the middle of a staff meeting, they might automatically go on the defensive. Show respect for their position in the corporate food chain, and seek a resolution privately.
Have you had to handle a boss disagreement and done it well? Tweet us your tips @BritandCo.
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