3 Steps to Help You Confront Your Boss


Confronting someone is scary. It can be even scarier to confront your boss. Often times, the anxiety you feel is strong enough to make you want to bury your head in the sand, no matter what the issue.

However, avoiding confronting your boss can turn a straightforward conversation into something bigger and more complex.

For example, at a team meeting your boss makes a comment about your work that you think is off-base. Afterwards, you think: is this what my boss really thinks of me?

The next day when he/she walks by you in the hall without smiling, you begin to wonder if you’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from being fired. You now want to avoid your boss at all costs, in hopes that his or her feelings towards you will work themselves out.

Soon a low-grade resentment begins to breed toward this person, and every interaction you have with them only strengthens your context that they're unhappy with you. And guess what? You may find yourself less and less happy with them.

[tweetable text="Having a confrontation conversation allows you the opportunity to see the whole truth" tweet="“Having a confrontation conversation allows you the opportunity to see the whole truth” via @fierce_inc"], and to hear both sides of the story, rather than just your side. This helps you take the appropriate next steps, and move forward on solid ground.

Does knowing this make it less scary? No.

Does it make it necessary so you can be happy and engaged at work? Yes.

To help take away some of the anxiety, here are three simple steps to prepare.

Step 1: Know Your Issue

In the Fierce Confrontation Model, the first step in preparing to confront anyone is to name the issue for yourself. This is even more critical when confronting a leader. BE SPECIFIC. If you take the above example, the real issue is the leader’s comment in the meeting. Simply saying, “I want to talk with you about the effect your comment, at the team meeting today, had on me” is a great way to start the conversation. Simple, straightforward, and to the point!

Step 2: Schedule a Time.

Leaders are busy. It’s not uncommon that throughout the day they’re pulled in many different directions. Catching them off-guard can mean that emotion from an issue that has nothing to do with you seeps into your conversation. You deserve the leader’s full attention. To ensure your conversation is a success, make it a priority for both of you, and schedule a meeting.

Step 3: Prepare Yourself.

Confrontation conversations are meant to be conversations. This is not a one-sided speech. Meaning, this is not an opportunity to go in and rail against your leader and expect them to just sit there and listen. Invite your partner to respond. The point is to learn more about their side, and to clarify if there is a bigger issue. And if so, what are some next steps in helping resolve it.

To make this less scary, begin to examine how you see the situation. Ask yourself: how have I contributed to the issue? How do I feel about it? Take notes. This will help you stay clear when you begin to hear their side and can help show you where you need to shift in order to move forward on a positive note.

The reality is there is no trivial comment made by leaders. Ambiguous comments about work or performance can manifest themselves  and deserve a conversation.

Use these three steps, to help empower yourself to take responsibility for your happiness at work.

Have you had to confront a leader, what did you do to prepare?

Originally posted by Jaime Navarro on April 11, 2012 on the Fierce Blog. 

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