Resolving Conflict With Your Boss

Reviewed Mar 21, 2017

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Summary

  • Get emotions under control
  • Share your view of the problem
  • Identify mutually acceptable solutions

Erik had had it. When his boss, Angie, assigned another co-worker a project Erik had wanted and worked for, he was angry and hurt. “I’ve worked so hard to show that I’m capable, but Angie just won’t trust me with more responsibility," says Erik, who is apprehensive about confronting his boss.

Like Erik, most people fear confronting an employer. But avoiding conflict often makes the situation worse. Using effective conflict resolution skills, however, opens the lines of communication and results in clarified job expectations, a more pleasant work environment, improved relations with your boss, and increased potential for professional growth.

Try using these conflict resolution techniques to work through your on-the-job conflicts.

Get emotions under control

Allow yourself plenty of time to cool off before confronting your boss. This helps establish a state of mind conducive to problem solving. Your efforts will fail if you have a “me versus my boss” attitude or if you predict outcomes before talking out the issues.

Give consideration to the time and place of your discussion. Picking a neutral meeting place that is likely to be free of interruptions and distractions is optimal.

Address conflict and explore underlying issues and needs

How you communicate is the key to successful conflict resolution. Share your view of the problem, being careful not to accuse or blame. Focus on the issue at hand, not the way you are feeling toward your boss. Take time to listen to your boss’s response, and try to see the situation from her perspective. Don’t interrupt. A respectful, rational conversation will help clarify the real issues.

Conflict can erupt over differing values, preferences, methods and goals, or a combination of factors. Quite often, conflict results from unmet needs or expectations. And almost always, it is hard to untangle the many issues involved without open and honest communication.

In this example, Angie wasn’t aware of Erik’s desire for increased responsibility and control over his work. Consequently, Erik viewed Angie as an overbearing micromanager who was constantly squelching his efforts to get ahead. When these feelings were brought to Angie’s attention, she assured Erik that assigning the project to a co-worker was not a personal attack or a reflection of her opinion of Erik’s abilities or quality of work.

Identify mutually acceptable solutions

After taking the time to clarify your position and feelings, define your expectations—what needs to happen to improve your working conditions or your relationship with your boss? Don’t make demands. Instead, tell your boss that you are interested in finding a solution that meets the needs of everyone involved. Bounce ideas off each other until you find a positive yet realistic solution.

Remember the positive potential of addressing conflict. Erik’s situation is a good example. Angie was ecstatic to learn about Erik’s desire for increased challenge and responsibility. “Turns out,” says Erik, “Angie has been snowed under with work, and she didn’t realize how out of touch she’s been with her employees. She also lost sight of the advantages of delegating. Now, she hosts a bi-monthly breakfast meeting for her employees to discuss current and impending work and to delegate projects at hand”—a solution that satisfies everyone.

Resources

The 5 Essential People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts  by Dale Carnegie Training. Touchstone, 2009.

Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job by Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith. Jossey-Bass, 2011. 

The Conflict Resolution Network
www.crnhq.org

By Christine P. Martin

Summary

  • Get emotions under control
  • Share your view of the problem
  • Identify mutually acceptable solutions

Erik had had it. When his boss, Angie, assigned another co-worker a project Erik had wanted and worked for, he was angry and hurt. “I’ve worked so hard to show that I’m capable, but Angie just won’t trust me with more responsibility," says Erik, who is apprehensive about confronting his boss.

Like Erik, most people fear confronting an employer. But avoiding conflict often makes the situation worse. Using effective conflict resolution skills, however, opens the lines of communication and results in clarified job expectations, a more pleasant work environment, improved relations with your boss, and increased potential for professional growth.

Try using these conflict resolution techniques to work through your on-the-job conflicts.

Get emotions under control

Allow yourself plenty of time to cool off before confronting your boss. This helps establish a state of mind conducive to problem solving. Your efforts will fail if you have a “me versus my boss” attitude or if you predict outcomes before talking out the issues.

Give consideration to the time and place of your discussion. Picking a neutral meeting place that is likely to be free of interruptions and distractions is optimal.

Address conflict and explore underlying issues and needs

How you communicate is the key to successful conflict resolution. Share your view of the problem, being careful not to accuse or blame. Focus on the issue at hand, not the way you are feeling toward your boss. Take time to listen to your boss’s response, and try to see the situation from her perspective. Don’t interrupt. A respectful, rational conversation will help clarify the real issues.

Conflict can erupt over differing values, preferences, methods and goals, or a combination of factors. Quite often, conflict results from unmet needs or expectations. And almost always, it is hard to untangle the many issues involved without open and honest communication.

In this example, Angie wasn’t aware of Erik’s desire for increased responsibility and control over his work. Consequently, Erik viewed Angie as an overbearing micromanager who was constantly squelching his efforts to get ahead. When these feelings were brought to Angie’s attention, she assured Erik that assigning the project to a co-worker was not a personal attack or a reflection of her opinion of Erik’s abilities or quality of work.

Identify mutually acceptable solutions

After taking the time to clarify your position and feelings, define your expectations—what needs to happen to improve your working conditions or your relationship with your boss? Don’t make demands. Instead, tell your boss that you are interested in finding a solution that meets the needs of everyone involved. Bounce ideas off each other until you find a positive yet realistic solution.

Remember the positive potential of addressing conflict. Erik’s situation is a good example. Angie was ecstatic to learn about Erik’s desire for increased challenge and responsibility. “Turns out,” says Erik, “Angie has been snowed under with work, and she didn’t realize how out of touch she’s been with her employees. She also lost sight of the advantages of delegating. Now, she hosts a bi-monthly breakfast meeting for her employees to discuss current and impending work and to delegate projects at hand”—a solution that satisfies everyone.

Resources

The 5 Essential People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts  by Dale Carnegie Training. Touchstone, 2009.

Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job by Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith. Jossey-Bass, 2011. 

The Conflict Resolution Network
www.crnhq.org

By Christine P. Martin

Summary

  • Get emotions under control
  • Share your view of the problem
  • Identify mutually acceptable solutions

Erik had had it. When his boss, Angie, assigned another co-worker a project Erik had wanted and worked for, he was angry and hurt. “I’ve worked so hard to show that I’m capable, but Angie just won’t trust me with more responsibility," says Erik, who is apprehensive about confronting his boss.

Like Erik, most people fear confronting an employer. But avoiding conflict often makes the situation worse. Using effective conflict resolution skills, however, opens the lines of communication and results in clarified job expectations, a more pleasant work environment, improved relations with your boss, and increased potential for professional growth.

Try using these conflict resolution techniques to work through your on-the-job conflicts.

Get emotions under control

Allow yourself plenty of time to cool off before confronting your boss. This helps establish a state of mind conducive to problem solving. Your efforts will fail if you have a “me versus my boss” attitude or if you predict outcomes before talking out the issues.

Give consideration to the time and place of your discussion. Picking a neutral meeting place that is likely to be free of interruptions and distractions is optimal.

Address conflict and explore underlying issues and needs

How you communicate is the key to successful conflict resolution. Share your view of the problem, being careful not to accuse or blame. Focus on the issue at hand, not the way you are feeling toward your boss. Take time to listen to your boss’s response, and try to see the situation from her perspective. Don’t interrupt. A respectful, rational conversation will help clarify the real issues.

Conflict can erupt over differing values, preferences, methods and goals, or a combination of factors. Quite often, conflict results from unmet needs or expectations. And almost always, it is hard to untangle the many issues involved without open and honest communication.

In this example, Angie wasn’t aware of Erik’s desire for increased responsibility and control over his work. Consequently, Erik viewed Angie as an overbearing micromanager who was constantly squelching his efforts to get ahead. When these feelings were brought to Angie’s attention, she assured Erik that assigning the project to a co-worker was not a personal attack or a reflection of her opinion of Erik’s abilities or quality of work.

Identify mutually acceptable solutions

After taking the time to clarify your position and feelings, define your expectations—what needs to happen to improve your working conditions or your relationship with your boss? Don’t make demands. Instead, tell your boss that you are interested in finding a solution that meets the needs of everyone involved. Bounce ideas off each other until you find a positive yet realistic solution.

Remember the positive potential of addressing conflict. Erik’s situation is a good example. Angie was ecstatic to learn about Erik’s desire for increased challenge and responsibility. “Turns out,” says Erik, “Angie has been snowed under with work, and she didn’t realize how out of touch she’s been with her employees. She also lost sight of the advantages of delegating. Now, she hosts a bi-monthly breakfast meeting for her employees to discuss current and impending work and to delegate projects at hand”—a solution that satisfies everyone.

Resources

The 5 Essential People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts  by Dale Carnegie Training. Touchstone, 2009.

Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job by Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith. Jossey-Bass, 2011. 

The Conflict Resolution Network
www.crnhq.org

By Christine P. Martin

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as behavioral health care or management advice. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have questions related to workplace issues, please consider contacting your human resources department. ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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