Must challenging upwards always be a conflict?

Are you ever tempted to behave like this with your boss?

When you feel that you have no other option and all you can do is silently disagree?

I saw this flag in my recent visit to Budapest. By taking out the middle of the flag, the picture of the hammer and sickle, Hungary was able to signal discontent and challenge the communist take over.

An extreme example of how much we don’t like it when we have our voice and our freedom taken away and are told how to behave.

What are your options when you have a boss provoking this sort of feeling in you?

A.      Cut the middle of the flag out

B.      Run away, hide in the toilets, pretend it isn’t happening

C.      Do your best to find a shared goal.

As a younger professional I was expert at cutting the middle of the flag out, Option A. I would use words too. It never did me any favours. I would rather lose than not be seen or heard. I have close friends and family I see using Option B – the run away or deny approach. On a long term basis this can damage your health, all that swallowing down of uncomfortable feeling. It’s taken me a long time, but I really do recommend Option C.

However, it’s not enough to have Option C as an aspiration. I have found that developing some skills and an approach has helped:

1. Know your boss

Think about who they are. What drives them? What do they want to gain?

2. Know their goal

What success are they seeking? Is it something you can sign up to?

3. Focus here and find the common ground with your goal

Find the overlap. Go and talk to your boss about this. Find a way to keep working together on some sort of task to give more time to allow the relationship to sort itself out too.

This may not always be possible, in which case, yes, it may be time to detach and find a new place to develop your career.

Sometimes though, all we need is just one tiny starting point to get a relationship moving again in a positive direction.

What has worked for you? It would be great to hear your views too.

If you are looking for additional training resource to help deliver your company’s goals, get in touch. Gill is keen to extend her work both as an associate of ambitious leadership development companies and as a valued addition to in-house L&D departments. She is a National Training Award Winner and Master Executive Coach.

Gill was able to take time out from delivering professional skills training in Hungary to visit the House of Terrors in Budapest, a museum containing exhibits related to the fascist and communist regimes in 20th-century Hungary.

Photo credit: Gill How

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Gill How

About Gill How

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