How do you encourage an open and productive workplace, one where everyone can do their best work? How do you do that when you’re not in charge? How do you begin a conversation with your boss, when you’re feeling angry? Do you put up with ‘stuff’ at work, but you’re finding it has a big cost?
You can initiate change.
For example, your boss puts you on a committee without asking you first, and you’re already overwhelmed with a mountain of work. Or your boss is rude and verbally abusive — and feels free to express this side at will. You decide that you can no longer tolerate it. But what should you do?
Why is it hard for people to respond in a pro-active way? The authors of “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” suggest that when faced with difficult situations where we feel we have no power, we begin operating in the ‘fight or flight’ part of our brain, the part we call on when we are in stress or our emotions are triggered. Which do you typically choose: ‘flight’, which looks like “I’ll suck it up because I can’t rock the boat” or “Fight”, and your days will be numbered at work. Either way sets an unhealthy precedent.
There is an alternative.
Take positive action. Make a decision to talk with your boss. In preparation for this conversation, ask yourself these questions (Most people find it helpful to write out these thoughts)
What’s the issue?
Where are my choices?
What does my boss care about?
What do I care about?
Where is our common ground
What is my Plan B