Getting Along With Your Boss

Reviewed Oct 10, 2017

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Summary

  • Accept your boss's authority.
  • Talk to your boss if you're unhappy.
  • Understand your value to your boss.

Even though you don't consider your boss your best friend, and even though you may be a bit wary of someone who has authority over you, you still can get along with your boss. And, getting along with your boss can make you feel more in control of your own productivity and happiness at work.

Accept your boss's authority

Authority probably is the main issue in how you interact with your boss. Your boss has authority over you in the workplace. Your boss no doubt makes more money than you do, has a bigger office than you do, and has more power than you do. That is because your boss has the job of motivating you, supervising your work, and making sure that everyone in your unit works together to get certain things done. That is what constitutes authority.

Yuck, authority. For you, the word may conjure up speeding tickets, or a snippy authoritarian teacher or a dentist telling you to floss so you won't get gum disease. Even so, authority exists, and it exists for good reasons.

Once you accept the reality of your boss's authority, you can move on to your own options in getting along with your boss and, in the process, making your work life happier. If you basically are happy with your job, just accepting this reality may be enough.

Talk to your boss if you're unhappy

If you have specific things that make you unhappy in your job, though, it may help to have a conversation about them with your boss. Your boss is not a mind reader. Feedback from you is important in helping your boss do a good job. If you know of specific changes or improvements that would make your job more satisfying, and therefore help you do your job better, ask your boss about them. Probably the worst thing that can happen is that your boss will say no.

If you decide to have this conversation, focus on solutions instead of just raising problems. Try to think through, ahead of time, what you would like to have that you are not getting. Go in with the attitude that whatever the differences between you and your boss, there must be some agreeable compromise.

In presenting your thoughts or ideas, it usually is effective to use "I" statements. This is nothing more than stating your own experience—how you feel about something in the office situation—instead of suggesting that the boss is doing something wrong. Here's an example: "I feel undervalued when you ask us what equipment we need to do our jobs, and I circle things in the office-products catalog and they don't get ordered." Now compare that to: "You never order any equipment I ask for." OK, so this might not be the exact conversation you had in mind, but you get the point. Talk about yourself without blaming your boss, if possible.

Change your perception

It also may help to shift your point of view from "I am a slave laborer and must do anything my boss asks" to the more balanced, "My boss needs me as much as I need my boss, and if we get along we can make each other's work life more satisfying."

This may not be apparent, but—assuming you are doing a good job—even though your boss has authority, you have some power, too. Think about what kind of jam your boss would be in if you quit. Think about how much of your boss's time would be required to hire and train the next worker in your position. Chances are, your boss really does need your work and collaboration.

Think of yourself as a free person who has elected to put a certain number of hours into a certain job and who wants to enjoy doing that job. You do have the ability to leave your job, and remembering this truth often can allow you to construct a situation at work where you enjoy your choice to work and feel you are of value to your boss. 

By Rebecca Steil, LICSW, MPH

Summary

  • Accept your boss's authority.
  • Talk to your boss if you're unhappy.
  • Understand your value to your boss.

Even though you don't consider your boss your best friend, and even though you may be a bit wary of someone who has authority over you, you still can get along with your boss. And, getting along with your boss can make you feel more in control of your own productivity and happiness at work.

Accept your boss's authority

Authority probably is the main issue in how you interact with your boss. Your boss has authority over you in the workplace. Your boss no doubt makes more money than you do, has a bigger office than you do, and has more power than you do. That is because your boss has the job of motivating you, supervising your work, and making sure that everyone in your unit works together to get certain things done. That is what constitutes authority.

Yuck, authority. For you, the word may conjure up speeding tickets, or a snippy authoritarian teacher or a dentist telling you to floss so you won't get gum disease. Even so, authority exists, and it exists for good reasons.

Once you accept the reality of your boss's authority, you can move on to your own options in getting along with your boss and, in the process, making your work life happier. If you basically are happy with your job, just accepting this reality may be enough.

Talk to your boss if you're unhappy

If you have specific things that make you unhappy in your job, though, it may help to have a conversation about them with your boss. Your boss is not a mind reader. Feedback from you is important in helping your boss do a good job. If you know of specific changes or improvements that would make your job more satisfying, and therefore help you do your job better, ask your boss about them. Probably the worst thing that can happen is that your boss will say no.

If you decide to have this conversation, focus on solutions instead of just raising problems. Try to think through, ahead of time, what you would like to have that you are not getting. Go in with the attitude that whatever the differences between you and your boss, there must be some agreeable compromise.

In presenting your thoughts or ideas, it usually is effective to use "I" statements. This is nothing more than stating your own experience—how you feel about something in the office situation—instead of suggesting that the boss is doing something wrong. Here's an example: "I feel undervalued when you ask us what equipment we need to do our jobs, and I circle things in the office-products catalog and they don't get ordered." Now compare that to: "You never order any equipment I ask for." OK, so this might not be the exact conversation you had in mind, but you get the point. Talk about yourself without blaming your boss, if possible.

Change your perception

It also may help to shift your point of view from "I am a slave laborer and must do anything my boss asks" to the more balanced, "My boss needs me as much as I need my boss, and if we get along we can make each other's work life more satisfying."

This may not be apparent, but—assuming you are doing a good job—even though your boss has authority, you have some power, too. Think about what kind of jam your boss would be in if you quit. Think about how much of your boss's time would be required to hire and train the next worker in your position. Chances are, your boss really does need your work and collaboration.

Think of yourself as a free person who has elected to put a certain number of hours into a certain job and who wants to enjoy doing that job. You do have the ability to leave your job, and remembering this truth often can allow you to construct a situation at work where you enjoy your choice to work and feel you are of value to your boss. 

By Rebecca Steil, LICSW, MPH

Summary

  • Accept your boss's authority.
  • Talk to your boss if you're unhappy.
  • Understand your value to your boss.

Even though you don't consider your boss your best friend, and even though you may be a bit wary of someone who has authority over you, you still can get along with your boss. And, getting along with your boss can make you feel more in control of your own productivity and happiness at work.

Accept your boss's authority

Authority probably is the main issue in how you interact with your boss. Your boss has authority over you in the workplace. Your boss no doubt makes more money than you do, has a bigger office than you do, and has more power than you do. That is because your boss has the job of motivating you, supervising your work, and making sure that everyone in your unit works together to get certain things done. That is what constitutes authority.

Yuck, authority. For you, the word may conjure up speeding tickets, or a snippy authoritarian teacher or a dentist telling you to floss so you won't get gum disease. Even so, authority exists, and it exists for good reasons.

Once you accept the reality of your boss's authority, you can move on to your own options in getting along with your boss and, in the process, making your work life happier. If you basically are happy with your job, just accepting this reality may be enough.

Talk to your boss if you're unhappy

If you have specific things that make you unhappy in your job, though, it may help to have a conversation about them with your boss. Your boss is not a mind reader. Feedback from you is important in helping your boss do a good job. If you know of specific changes or improvements that would make your job more satisfying, and therefore help you do your job better, ask your boss about them. Probably the worst thing that can happen is that your boss will say no.

If you decide to have this conversation, focus on solutions instead of just raising problems. Try to think through, ahead of time, what you would like to have that you are not getting. Go in with the attitude that whatever the differences between you and your boss, there must be some agreeable compromise.

In presenting your thoughts or ideas, it usually is effective to use "I" statements. This is nothing more than stating your own experience—how you feel about something in the office situation—instead of suggesting that the boss is doing something wrong. Here's an example: "I feel undervalued when you ask us what equipment we need to do our jobs, and I circle things in the office-products catalog and they don't get ordered." Now compare that to: "You never order any equipment I ask for." OK, so this might not be the exact conversation you had in mind, but you get the point. Talk about yourself without blaming your boss, if possible.

Change your perception

It also may help to shift your point of view from "I am a slave laborer and must do anything my boss asks" to the more balanced, "My boss needs me as much as I need my boss, and if we get along we can make each other's work life more satisfying."

This may not be apparent, but—assuming you are doing a good job—even though your boss has authority, you have some power, too. Think about what kind of jam your boss would be in if you quit. Think about how much of your boss's time would be required to hire and train the next worker in your position. Chances are, your boss really does need your work and collaboration.

Think of yourself as a free person who has elected to put a certain number of hours into a certain job and who wants to enjoy doing that job. You do have the ability to leave your job, and remembering this truth often can allow you to construct a situation at work where you enjoy your choice to work and feel you are of value to your boss. 

By Rebecca Steil, LICSW, MPH

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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