How to glide through difficult conversations with your manager

difficult conversations

At some point in your career, you may face a problem that can only be resolved through a series of difficult conversations with your manager.

Whilst you don’t want to upset or disappoint your manager, sometimes you don’t have a choice. Look at it this way – it’s far better to have difficult conversations now than to deal with the future consequences of work unsatisfaction which include depression, anxiety, low productivity and even being fired.

The more open and transparent the employer/employee relationship is, the higher your work satisfaction and quality of work will be. So, here are five great tips to help you tackle difficult conversations with your manager;

1. Schedule a time

Environment is everything. Make sure you have your manager's full attention. Schedule an appointment with them and create the space you need to be heard. Bombarding your manager at the coffee machine is exactly what you don’t want to do. When you request a short meeting, there is no need to specify too much in your request just something along the lines of, “When would be a good time to talk for 10 minutes?"

2. Structure your issue

When you're in a meeting with your manager, ensure you structure your problem logically. Start by clearly stating your intention, for example; “I want to talk about my productivity and how I feel that your micromanaging might be hindering me”. You want to be straight but you don’t want to be aggressive in any way. Then go on to show the win/win, highlight your shortcomings and find a resolution, in that order - all discussed below.

3. Show the win/win

You have a problem and undoubtedly if it’s addressed, it will benefit both you and your boss. You have to clearly highlight this benefit to your boss during your discussions. It’s far easier to resolve a problem if it has a mutual benefit for both parties. It also allows even the most stubborn of bosses to consider your argument. Try to support your argument with evidence for example, "during this period my productivity was high, this is because of X and this is why I think it would be beneficial to both of us to have X in place again.

4. Highlight your shortcomings

If you've got a problem with your manager or coworker, there's certainly a chance that you've been at fault, even if it's only something small such as not previously communicating your grievances to them.

Before you proceed to explain how you've feel disadvantaged or wronged, you should first admit your shortcomings, this helps the listener to understand and believe that you are being objective about the issue and not just emotionally driven. Once you can show you’ve considered all sides, it's much easier for your manager to empathize with you instead of doubt your complaint.

5. Arrive at a resolution.

Even if it's not exactly what you wanted, a resolution is still a win. For example, if your boss doesn’t feel like you are eligible for a raise at present, but agrees to reconsider his position if you meet a specific set of agreed goals, by an agreed date, then your conversation has been a success.

Your conversation may be driven by hurt or even anger, but don't feel like you're at war with your manager or that you are trying to win a fight. The goal of any difficult conversation is to open up honesty between both parties so, that they can start to have an open and more mutually agreeable relationship – something that is highly conducive to a happy work environment.

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