ID-100126378 (1)Do you argue with your boss? If so, Sipho’s argument with her boss may sound familiar.

It started when he told her senior management wanted a new procedure implemented in her work area. When she examined the implementation plans however, she was taken aback. There were many potential pitfalls, and if they didn’t work out, she would end up being blamed.

Sipho immediately went to her boss: “These plans are crazy and will never work!”

“Yes they will,” he responded.

“They won’t, and I want to change them,” Sipho shot back.

“No, stop overreacting and just follow instructions”, he said heatedly, and turned away to answer an incoming phone call.

Sipho left steaming. Why didn’t he just listen to her? Typical! The more she thought about his reaction, the angrier she became.

She calmed down later. She hated confrontation like this which made her feel positively ill. She vacillated between blaming her boss for not listening and blaming herself for the way she handled the conversation.

She saw that there were two issues at play. One was the faulty implementation plan. The other was her reaction to it. She realised that her emotions had got in the way of achieving what she wanted to do. And if she was honest to herself, it wasn’t the first time either …..

She still needed to change the faulty implementation plan. So she tried again, this time with a different approach.

She asked her boss for a meeting to help her understand the implementation plan better.

At the meeting, she began by asking her boss to clarify the reasons for the new procedure and what he wanted to achieve. She then asked questions to make sure she understood what his goals were. She finally asked permission to come back later with some ideas of how they could be achieved in the best possible way.

At the next meeting, the boss was pleased with her suggestions and she immediately started implementing them.

Sipho learnt some valuable lessons about how to disagree and argue with your boss and still win.

Do the following:

·         Ask your boss to explain why the issue or project is important to them, and how it fits into the bigger scheme of things

·         Show that you understand the issue from your boss’s point of view

·         Present your plan showing how it will meet your bosses need

·         List any concerns you have and how they can be overcome

Don’t do the following:

·         Interrupt, or use the dreaded phrases “yes, but” or “you/they should”.

·         Repeat your argument if it’s already not working

·         Exaggerate or distort facts (which often happens in an unequal fight such as with your boss)

·         Let your emotions get in the way of logic

What should you do if you still disagree?

What should you do however if at the end of all this, you still fundamentally disagree with what your boss wants?

The reality of corporate life is that having your boss against you will substantially reduce your career prospects. Sabotaging and backstabbing are not effective ways of resisting as they almost always backfire and anyway are bad for your soul.

Presuming that it doesn’t violate the organisational or your personal values, consider saying that while you still have concerns that remain unanswered, you will do your very best to make sure this project works and meets your boss’s needs.

Then go ahead and do your best. Crucially, make sure you provide regular progress reports, including your concerns by labelling them “Risks to the project success”.

Also include a “Risk mitigation plan” of how the risks can be overcome. In my experience they will almost certainly include many of the original ideas you were not successful in getting accepted in the first place ………

Funny how the karma and the world works, isn’t it?

Would these suggestions help you win your next argument with your boss?


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