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When to Address a Conflict with Your Superior

A productive meeting with your boss can be a relief and can motivate you to be the best you can be. But if you’re not sure you’re ready to tackle a discussion about the conflict between the two of you, here are some motivations for a meeting you may want to consider:

  • You’re determined to stay with the organization. If you want to establish yourself as an integral part of the management team, your boss can help you do that, so work with her, not against her. If you’re so frustrated that you can’t imagine respecting her anytime soon, try respecting the position instead.

  • One or both of you are relatively new to the position, and you got off to a bad start. Building trust and taking time to share and relate to a new boss while you work through minor conflicts is important. Set the stage for an ongoing relationship by asking her opinion, valuing her input, and offering your insights as well. Show her that you’re capable of having honest and respectful conversations when needed. Going to a superior with a concern or complaint is much easier when you’ve already laid the groundwork.

  • You’re concerned about your reputation. You may not continue your employment under this manager, but slinking away without making an effort to repair a damaged reputation may not be in your best interest. At the very least, try to clarify your actions and work to clear the air.

  • Values such as respect and dignity have been violated. If you’re at a point in your life in which you’d like to get more out of your job than just the paycheck and want to focus on what you value — respect, trust, cooperation, and the like — having a conversation may be worth your time. Be genuine in your approach and provide specific examples of how her actions have affected you. Merely saying, “I value respect and I don’t feel respected” may leave her a little bewildered and thinking you’re just there to complain.

  • The situation is impossible to overlook and can no longer be ignored. If this conflict is negatively affecting your quality-of-life and has started to seriously impact personal relationships or is robbing you from sleep, and if you’re willing to address it at any cost, then by all means go for it. However, make sure to be mindful of your approach, tone, and willingness to listen.

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