6 tips for standing up to your boss
Any workplace conflict can be a difficult experience but when that conflict is with your boss it becomes particularly stressful.
You worry that it will have a negative impact on your career progression, your performance reviews or even your overall reputation in the company. Luckily, this is very rarely the case. If you’re worried about a potential showdown with your boss, here are 6 ways to defuse the situation (and avoid having to find a new job):
Arrange a private meeting
Grabbing a quick word or catching your boss at the end of a meeting is not the right setting for a serious and potentially confrontational chat. Request a one-on-one where you have adequate time and privacy to relay your points. If you’re not comfortable disclosing the purpose of the meeting, feel free to keep it suitably vague, a general catch up should suffice.
Make sure you’re adequately prepared for the meeting. You need to be clear and concise about what your issues are. Don’t go in all guns blazing and then not be able to back up your points with reasonable examples. For instance you can’t claim that you’re not listened to in your role and then use an ignored lunchtime suggestion as your evidence. Establish what you feel your main grievances are and then make a list of specific concrete examples which illustrate your point.
Watch your language
However valid your arguments may be, if you go on the offensive with tone or language you completely lose your credibility. When speaking to your boss about your frustrations try to keep the focus on your own feelings rather than their bad behaviour.
Use phrases like: “I think that I respond best to feedback when it’s communicated privately” or “I feel my performance would improve a lot if I had more autonomy over my work” or “I believe that such high targets are not in our best interests and that reducing them would greatly boost morale and motivation in the team.” Be so logical and level headed that they have no choice but to take onboard what you’re saying.
Come with a solution
Standing up to your boss is a courageous and worthwhile endeavour. However to gain any real value of it you need to think about what you want the outcome to be. Pointing out your problems is just half the battle, you also need to suggest a possible solution to ensure a productive and communicative relationship going forward. Try to be empathetic and be prepared to compromise.
Don’t poison the well
Resist the temptation to vent to your colleagues about your pain-in-the-ass-boss. Even if your coworkers instigate the bitching session, don’t indulge them. If your boss or other senior team members get wind of you moaning, it will devalue your arguments even if they’re completely valid.