No matter how well you get on with your boss, there will always be situations where you need to be strategic in how you handle a discussion. Whether you have a performance review, are asking for a raise or telling them you’re quitting, you can work it to maintain a positive relationship while still staying true to yourself.
Here are some expert tips on how to have those tricky conversations without jeopardizing your career prospects!
1. Be Clear About What You Want to Say
It’s always a good idea to be straightforward about what you have to say. Beating around the bush is irritating, and makes it look like you have something to hide. If you’re anxious about stumbling over your words, work out a script or some bullet points before the meeting, so you stay on track.
2. Stay Calm
If you’re upset, don’t go storming into your boss’ office. Wait until the first flush of emotion has passed, take a deep breath or a walk outside, and work out how you want to handle the situation. Don’t speak to your boss until you’ve calmed down.
3. Have an Objective
Before you go into the meeting, have a clear objective. What do you want your boss to know by the end of the meeting, and what exactly do you want to achieve? What outcome would work for you?
4. Be Mindful of Your Boss’s Way of Working
People have different communication styles. Some bosses have an open-door policy and are always up for a chat. Others maintain a strict schedule and prefer time to prepare for a conversation. If your boss works best on a schedule, set up a meeting a few days out, so you aren’t taking them off-guard.
5. Provide Evidence
Before you leap in to disagree with a decision your boss has made, be sure you get your facts straight. Be prepared to back up your statements with firm evidence, not just opinion.
6. Own Your Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes; it’s part of being human. What really counts is how you deal with them. If you’ve messed up, don’t hide it or blame it on someone else. ‘Fess up straight away and get focused on a solution.
7. Learn to Take Criticism Gracefully
It’s vital that you don’t take workplace criticism personally. It’s normal to react to being criticized, but it’s essential to keep calm. Even if you feel it’s unjustified just keep repeating ‘it’s not personal’ over in your head until the emotion passes. Then you’ll be in a better place to respond professionally.