Having a Tough Conversation with Your Employer

We’ve all been there: Wishing you could say a myriad of colorful things to your boss or supervisor when things go wrong and you are frustrated. Yet, by not saying something and having that difficult conversation, that frustrating instance may, or likely will, happen again. 

Employees have just as much of a right to sit down and talk about a tough situation or problem as employers do. Having that conversation on a professional level is the tricky part. 

Here is our advice to help you have a constructive conversation with your employer:

Don’t Lead with Emotion

It’s hard to not get wrapped up in everything that makes your blood boil about a person or situation. Simmer down and think about the facts that generate such heat. If there is a break in communication, rely on the facts of that disconnect. Where did it start and what is the cause?

When having a tough conversation, revisit what is true and not what is felt. If the issue can wait, set up a meeting for a day or two following what has made you displeased so that you have time to cool off and gather the facts.

Use “I” Statements

This is a tried-and-true method even in everyday conversations. Starting with “I” statements eliminates the accusatory tone that some difficult conversations may possess. It also emphasizes that this is your perception, and that the other party may not see it the same way. An example in a situation involving a lack of leadership would be, “I am noticing that there isn’t a lot of clear direction being given.” This then opens the conversations to examples and brings it back to the facts. 

Know When to Walk Away

Not all bosses or leaders know how to handle negative feedback, especially when coming from an employee. What may happen is that even in the most peaceful and honest conversation, something can engage an anger response in the person you are speaking with. Knowing when and how to excuse yourself prior can relieve some of the potentially growing tension. When voices start to raise, that is a red flag to end the discussion and pick back up on it another time. That can sound something like, “I think we need a break right now and should pick up on this later.”

It’s never easy pointing out flaws or bringing up displeasure in the workplace, but without that feedback employers can’t grow and develop. It also reduces stress knowing that you can approach a hard conversation with your boss in a professional and understanding manner. 

If you’d like to read more workplace insights, please browse our advice column. If you’re looking for a new professional opportunity, you can search our job listings or submit your resume today

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