Contrary to what you feel, the fact remains that your boss has reached where s/he is because of his / her experience and knowledge. They are your boss because s/he has earned it. However, it doesn’t mean that the boss is always right. We are all humans and humans make mistakes. We are comfortable with our family member or friends warning us when they see us going in the wrong direction and vice versa. Sadly, it is not as simple when it comes to professional relationships.
Many of us have faced a situation, where we know that our boss is wrong but don’t know how to tell him/her without offending. We may have a different but better opinion on certain professional matters, yet we find it difficult to share with our bosses. There is a constant fear of either coming across as disrespecting or ending up in an argument with the boss.
Here’s the million dollar question. “How can one disagree with their boss without offending him / her? Is that even possible?” Yes! A little bit of effort and tact can help you communicate better with your boss on stressful matters. Outlined below are a few tips that will help you share your opinions freely and respectfully without offending your boss:
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1. Build Trust with Your Boss
No relationship can ever flourish without trust. This is true in the case of professional relationships too. If your boss doesn’t trust you, there is no way s/he will not even consider looking at things from your perspective or take your words seriously. It is agreed that building trust requires effort on both you and your boss’ part, but you have to keep playing your part. Deliver your work on time, keep your performance consistent and become a reliable resource to your boss. S/he will appreciate you and start trusting you more with professional matters.
2. Understand Your Boss’s Reasons
Before you question his / her judgment, don’t ignore the fact that your boss is indeed a smart person and comes with many years of valuable experience. Analyze your views ten times before you try to contradict your boss’s views. Try and see the situation from his/her point of view and then decide what is going to work better. If you still feel that your approach is better than your boss’, have respect for his opinion. Your respect for his/her opinions will reflect in the way you communicate and your boss will listen to you without inhibitions. By doing so, you will create an opportunity for a constructive discussion to happen and eliminate the possibility of having an argument with the boss. Even if the boss doesn’t decide to go ahead with your approach, s/he will respect you for speaking your mind.
3. Gather Facts to Support Your Argument
Nothing speaks better than facts. When it comes to taking big decisions in an organization, beliefs and feelings have little to no value. What the management wants to base their decisions on are the facts. Do some extra homework and bring out data and present strong situational analysis to support your argument. There’s no way your boss won’t listen to you.
4. Apply Tact in Your Dialogue
Trust tact to be your best friend while presenting your argument. Take it as an opportunity to put across your point of view and not as a platform to bring up past issues and personal differences. If you feel that your boss is deviating from the topic and you too feel tempted to say harsh things, brush the feeling off. Bring his attention to the actual purpose of the meeting. More than what you say, how you say it will make all the difference. Don’t apologize unnecessarily at the same time don’t get too aggressive. Be calm and speak confidently. If it seems that your boss has made an obvious mistake, don’t bring it up publicly. Point it out to him / her in private and you will earn his trust and respect.
5. Don’t Overdo it
Know when it is best to step back as you cannot win in all the arguments. There’s no point in dragging the discussion for long if you see that your boss is just not ready to budge. Respect his decision and graciously accept your defeat. An act like this will further strengthen your boss’s trust that allowed him to listen to your argument in the first place.
Practical application of these tips will not only help you communicate better with your boss but also make you a valuable part of the team for expressing your views. Your actions will gain you the trust of your boss and your whole team. This might even open the door for a higher position for you.
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