I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of diverse opinions, differences, disagreements, arguments, confrontations and sometimes non-repairable conflicts. There’s always a point-of-no-return in any disagreement. Shattering a relationship with an acquaintance is one thing. Destroying the relationship with your boss is quite another.
There are no “rules” when you have a disagreement with your boss. There are, however, some insights you might want to consider. Take each one and gauge your willingness to take on a subject, the degree of risk your willing to take, for what level of result? Sometimes the risk is not worth the result.
- TRUST – How much trust is there between you and your boss? If one doesn’t trust the other, your ability to disagree is severely limited. Many employees don’t trust their boss. On the other hand, if your position will work to the advantage of the boss, it might be worthwhile to “fight” for an outcome that will be to his advantage. As a result, you could increase his trust in you.
- NEVER LOSE YOUR COOL – This is true for any discussion or disagreement. You lose before you even begin. Anger has a way of diminishing your position and weakening your credibility. On the other hand, if your boss loses his cool, you heighten his vulnerability and makes you the “cause” of his unbecoming behavior. You lose either way.
- UNDERSTAND THEIR ISSUES – Once you understand someone’s objectives and information you can then understand their assumptions leading to their decisions. It may not make sense to you until you comprehend the thinking behind their suppositions. This is a great chance to reach a consensus. Once you understand your boss’s thinking, integrate it with your thinking for a compromise solution.
- PRIVACY – It’s very hard to back down from a potential argument if you’re in front of others. You both have a need to be right when you have an audience. The issues tend to get lost when co-workers are listening in. Someone is going to lose credibility.
- TRY SUGAR NOT LEMONS – Many times the “What would happen if…..?” question is better than a definitive statement, like “We should do it this way!”. Taking the bosses idea and wrapping it around an expanded idea of yours, softens the position and is more acceptable.
- RESULTS – When the results are far greater than the risk, it’s worth it to make a stand. However, you need documented proof that your way is superior. Demonstrate that it’s in the best interest of the boss or the company to move in a different direction.
- RETREAT – Once your boss digs in his heels, it’s best to back off. Retreating is not a negative. Hopefully you’ll not get the backsplash from a boss’s bad decision.
CONCLUSION: Pick your battles carefully, prepare your position with substance and be ready to back off if necessary.
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