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Tips For How to Confront Your Boss and Still Keep Your Job

Work relationships are one of the hardest types of human interactions to master, and no relationship is more fraught with stress than with your boss. While there are a few lucky souls who have great rapport with their manager and feel comfortable speaking up to them, a vast majority of professionals simply do not have that experience. It’s not always easy confronting your boss, but there are ways to do it professionally, diplomatically, and constructively to help you make your point and still keep your job. 

Ask questions. Before going into your boss’ office and going straight into your grievances, make sure you are fully aware of all the facts and that you understand the problem completely. Ask questions about anything that you may feel unsure or uneasy about. By asking these questions, you may walk away with a better understanding of why things are the way they are or you may be shedding light on things that your boss may not have previously thought about. In any case, asking questions is the first step to starting a dialogue with your supervisor.

Use “I” statements. When you frame the conversation with “you” sentences, the implication is that you feel your manager is in the wrong and it will automatically put him or her on the defensive. This is not what you want as it will make them less open to considering your point of view and to having a level conversation about the issue. By using “I” statements, you are conveying your perspective on the situation, which can then lead to discussion, clarification, and understanding for all parties involved. 

Be fair. Although you are speaking out to your boss about your dissatisfaction or concerns, surely not everything is bad. Be sure to include the positive and speak generously about the aspects that are working well for you in the office. Merely speaking about the negative aspects of things will give you the reputation of being a “Debbie Downer” and you lose credibility for any future issues you may raise. By offering a balanced and fair view of the situation, your comments and observations become constructive, not obstructive. 

Offer solutions. If you have a concern, you have a responsibility to finding a solution. Spend some time thinking of ideal ways to address and rectify your concerns. Come up with tangible, realistic paths that can be taken to right the course and then speak to your boss. Even if you’re unsure of how to implement your ideas, do not approach the subject with your boss without first considering options for how to address and improve the situation.

Don’t go negative. Whenever possible, speak out without having to name names or throw anybody on the team under the bus, especially if that person is your manager. While it may be tempting to admit that despite all your long hours and hard work, your coworker’s lack of commitment and dedication to the project derailed progress overall or that your boss’unwillingness to work alongside the team is destroying morale, the only person that will come out of that type of conversation looking bad will be you. Take the high road and avoid speaking negatively about specific team members and address the underlying problem. 

Confronting your boss is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things you will ever have to encounter in your professional career. Maintain your professionalism and approach the situation with constructiveness in order to voice your concerns and still keep your job.