In any work situation, it’s inevitable that there will be times when you’ll have differences with someone higher up the food chain. Too often, we react to such situations emotionally, find ourselves feeling stressed and then end up wishing we had handled things differently.
Rather than second guessing yourself, we’d suggest trying a logical approach to disagreements that may not always get you what you want, but that can reduce stress and leave you happier with how you handled things.
Start by accepting that you can’t change your boss, or anyone else. If your problems are growing out of the type of person he or she is, or how he or she works as a business person, accept that this is simply the way things are. Don’t waste time and increase your stress by trying to change what can’t be changed.
Next, decide whether to deal with the problem now or later. There’s no right answer. Maybe tackling it now will make you look argumentative, but waiting might lead to bigger problems.
You also need to decide whether to deal with the differences directly or indirectly. Talking with the boss in the right way, at the right time, can sometimes be effective. But there are also times when talking to a friend might give you a better perspective on the situation.
Once you’ve made those decisions, begin a logical, effective problem-solving approach to the disagreement. Start by deciding how important the disagreement is. Don’t let emotions make you waste a mountain of energy on a molehill-sized problem.
Next, consider all the possible courses of action. Most situations have many possible solutions. Be realistic in evaluating how each might work and what outcomes might be achieved.
When you’ve decided on the best alternative, perhaps discussed it with a friend, then take action to implement it. Your final move then is to step back and evaluate the outcome.
You may end up finding that things still aren’t quite right and you need to go back through the process again, trying a different alternative.
There’s no guarantee that every problem is fixable or that your boss will always agree with your solutions. Rather, it’s important to remember that your final objective is not to change your boss, just to feel good about how you’ve handled the situation. Taking a logical, considered approach to disagreements can mean less stress and a better work environment.
“The Counseling Corner” is provided as a public service by the American Counseling Association, the nation’s largest organization of counseling professionals. Learn more at www.counseling.org.