A colleague recently confided that she did not like the way their boss openly opposed her response to a generic question, meant for all participants, during a weekly meeting of their department. She usually comments on how her boss cuts her short and disagrees with her most of the times. It must indeed be hard for her to deal with situations like these but here are a few ways to rationalize such situations:
1. It is important to know that clashes or conflicts usually happen when both the boss and the employee are egoistic. Submissive boss or employee or else authoritative boss or employee would hardly get into disagreements as one of the parties would always know how to keep their bubblings under. Although it does amount to restriction on self-expression. Come to think of it practically, absolute equality in self-expression is a far-fetched idea between a boss and a subordinate in most cases. Being a subordinate, even if you get this rare opportunity to voice out your opinions honestly, you would always be expected to package your opinions differently than a boss simply by virtue of more powers with the boss to maneuver an employee’s standing, powers, responsibility or even future in the company. Most bosses are not that manipulative but their positions can control many voices.
2. Being fully aware of your position in the chain of command, it is more sensible for a subordinate that if your boss continues to be egoistic, you get level-headed. In a public forum like a meeting when you find yourself interrupted, disagreed with or opposed by your boss on an inconsequential matter, smiling it off and again continuing with what you were saying is the biggest revenge; you could also use a neutralizer such as ‘Well, that’s your perception, and I am talking about mine’. However, when the matters discussed are crucial, it is better to be direct yet polite over disagreements and saying something like ‘I do have a few doubts on this issue; would appreciate if you clear them.’; In this way, you make it amply clear that you will not correspond with the absolutism of your boss when you have a genuine idea solution and send this signal to everyone present that you can stand for what you believe in. However, in any given moment do not lose your cool. Your boss should not be allowed to exercise that much control over you.
Meetings are a sensitive medium where the agenda should be to come-up with unanimous decisions to common problems or filling the think-tanks. As for reproaches, both bosses and employees are equally at risk and can be put on the spot in different ways. The ideal way would be to focus on the agenda and not to belittle any participant.