Monthly Archive for April, 2005


If you are a get-things-done manager, sooner or later on your career path you will come in conflict with your boss. The same sort of assertiveness and confidence that leads you to career success has helped him to earn his position.

Career Tip: If you do not have periodic disagreements with your supervisors you are probably not being as assertive as you should be in moving your career ahead.

These conflicts can prove to be hazardous to the health of your career if they are not handled with common sense.

No one enjoys conflict, especially with the boss. But when you have an honest difference of opinion, it is better to pay the price of discomfort and take the risk of some penalty than to bottle up the frustration and nagging conscience that results from not meeting what you see as your responsibilities.

Knowing you will have conflicts, you can be prepared to handle them so there are no individual losers.


There are nine job tips about ways you lessen the damage that can result from conflicts with your boss. In fact, you can turn these conflicts to your advantage.

1. Concisely define the issue– preferably in writing– so that you have a clear understanding as to what the controversy is all about. Determine how important it is to the parties involved and to the organization.

If the conflict doesn’t damage your prospects for career success, save your energies for another time when the stakes are significant.

2. Give full consideration to the points of view of all parties concerned, especially the boss. His responsibilities are different than yours. He may have a legitimate reason for his opinion, which you are not aware of at the moment. The conflict you see may disappear with an explanation.

3. Weigh your reasons and objectives against the good of the organization. Before you “go to the mat” on an issue, be sure you are motivated by what you believe to be the larger interest and not just your own narrowly defined agenda.

4. After due consideration you still feel the difference is worth pursuing have a face-to-face discussion with your boss. If the matter is not resolved with a meeting, ask permission to leave a written explanation with your boss for his further consideration.

5. Never push your boss into a corner where he has no room for compromise. Do not air the conflict with your boss in the presence of others.

6. Don’t the matter be positioned on a personal basis. Emotions and personalities have no place in a confrontation with the boss.

7. Be tactful. Show respect for the boss’s position and responsibilities. Whatever the outcome of your differences with him, he is still your boss.

8. Keep the matter in perspective. It is a rare situation when the resolution of an issue results in a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the world coming to an end.

9. Don’t pin a medal on your chest if you prevail or wear the black of mourning if the decision goes the other way. Get on with the job. If you have been heard and the boss still doesn’t agree, be a good trooper, support his decision, openly and aggressively. If the outlook is contrary to your basic values look for another job.

Career Advice: If you can’t discuss conflicts with your boss in a free and open manner so as to arrive at acceptable resolutions, or if disagreements are so frequent and painful that your life and career are being disrupted, recognize you have a problem larger than any single issue.

You may be at t odds with the standards and objectives of the boss or the organization. Or the personal chemistry between you and your boss may be out of balance.

If you can’t resolve the conflicts or live with them, locate another opportunity. Life is too short to exist in a world of turmoil and confrontations.

Don’t Let Difficult People Stymie Your Career

Unless you are among the luckiest people in the world you have to cope with difficult people along your career path.

Don’t waste your time searching for a utopia where there are no difficult people. They are everywhere.

Job Tip: Instead, spend your time figuring out how to manage difficult relationships so that they don’t become roadblocks on your career path.


There are seven basic patterns of difficult behavior, according to Dr. Robert M. Bramson, author of Coping With Difficult People.

• Hostile-Aggressive: The bullies, walking time bombs, who throw tantrums and try to “muscle” their way through.

• Complainers: They gripe incessantly, but never try to make things better.

• Silent and Unresponsive: Ask them a question, they only answer, “yeah,” “nope,” or just grunt and stare. When they do respond they dance around the questions.

• Super-Agreeables: Very likable, outgoing people who will agree to anything, but rarely produce what they promise.

• Negativists: Their view always is: “It won’t work, it’s impossible.” They are always complaining; always ready to criticize everything about the job; always gossiping.

• Know-It-All Experts: These are superior types who want you to know how smart they are and to realize how incompetent you are.

• Indecisives: They wait for someone else to make the decisions; if they do have to decide, they want to wait until everything is perfect. If things go wrong, someone else is at fault.


Do you recognize any of these types? Sure you do. It’s easy. The hard challenge is how to cope with them. Here are nine common sense career tips that will help.

1. Recognize you are not “just being negative and difficult” yourself when you acknowledge the reality that the world is brim full of difficult people.

2. Keep your eyes on your career goals. Don’t let hard-to-get-along-with people become a personal issue. Resist getting bogged down in the dynamics of the situation. Put the difficult person in the proper perspective. Keep in mind he is not your personal problem unless he impedes your progress or gives you ulcers.

3. Remember, you don’t have to like a person to get along with him or her. Working relationships are not like marriages. They should be treated as expediencies in the process of reaching your career goals.

4. Recognize you can be difficult, too. It takes two to tango. Be sure you have your act together.

5. Try to understand why difficult people are difficult. Are they always hard to get along with, or just on those “bad days” everyone, including you, has?

Could it be they are just different? Career Tip: What may be seen as normal behavior by some, could be outrageous in another’s view.

6. Be big enough to accommodate with the difficult person, up to a point. Be patient, but not too patient. Give ground, when it is not too costly to you. Let the difficult person run his course. But stay in control of the interplay of the difficult relationship.

Have a strategy to deal with each difficult person who is important to your getting ahead on your career path. But be firm when necessary. Don’t argue and don’t raise your voice. Don’t get personal. State your case and move on. Be ready to be friendly and let the difficult person back off the limb he has gone out on.

7. Try to ignore the person and the situation, especially if you are dealing with a certifiable “basket case.” Maintain as much distance – physically, organizationally and emotionally – as possible between yourself and the difficult person.

8. However, try as you might, there may come a time when it makes common sense to recognize that some relationships are too difficult to live with.

When this happens, draw the line. Go to your boss, explain the situation and ask for him to resolve it by moving you to another position away from the trouble-maker or by correcting or removing that person. Keep in mind this can backfire unless you are clearly in the right.

9. Finally, if you have made your best effort along the lines discussed here and the difficulty still exists and it is hurting your personal life and career goals, you have choice to make. Suffer the situation or leave for another position.

But if you leave keep in mind there will be people who are hard to get along with wherever you go. But maybe they will be somewhat more tolerable.