Even if you are in your dream job and have an amazing boss, there may—and probably will—come a time when you and your boss disagree, whether it is about a timetable, a strategy, a design idea or even something outside of work. 

We hope that you have a good enough relationship with your boss that you can have a conversation about your disagreement, but not every work situation is ideal. Here are some tips for managing a conflict:

  1. Take your time. Although you want to use your emotional intelligence to lead you, it’s a good idea to wait until you have analyzed your feelings before expressing them. Remember that you want to respond rather than react. Think things through before starting a conversation about something that is bothering you.
  2. Play devil’s advocate. Try to figure out your boss’s point of view and agenda. Your counter argument will probably be listened to more carefully if it addresses your manager’s issues.
  3. Keep it to yourself. You’re already having a conflict with your boss. Don’t add embarrassment to the mix. If you need to talk to someone about it to clarify your thinking, talk to a friend from outside your office. Then ask for a private meeting to discuss it rather than bringing it up in front of other co-workers.
  4. This too may pass. Sometimes conflicts resolve themselves. Before you engage with your boss, make sure the problem isn’t only a short-term one which will go away without intervention. Doing nothing is doing something, too.

In the perfect workplace, your boss would welcome different opinions and be willing to engage with you about any challenges you may be facing at any time. But if yours is not perfect, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve it with effective communication.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative