You know those awkward boundary-shifting conversations you dread having with your boss? Well, I hate to say it, but they’re vital to your survival in business.
They’re necessary when you feel unappreciated and underpaid. Or, perhaps, when someone less capable than you just got the promotion you wanted. Maybe you have an objectionable teammate?
“Time to quit”, you tell yourself.
But I say: “How about an honest conversation with your boss first?” You think it is pointless; after all, if he or she were doing their job properly they would have noticed what was going on. Right? Wrong.
Before you make that appointment for a chat take some time to reflect.
Neuro biologist Bruce Lipton tells us that in any one second we process 40 bits of information consciously. In the same second we process 40 million bits of information unconsciously. Our unconscious mind, below our awareness, is running the show. As we are largely unconscious we don’t know what the show is.
An amazing thing happens when we go to work. Our bosses metamorphose into our parents. Professor of Leadership at INSEAD Business School, Manfred Kets de Vries, tells us that we are constantly playing unconscious movies in our brain. Those movies stem largely from what happened to us as a child and the sense we made of it with our immature child’s brain. As our brains aren’t capable of logical adult reasoning until adolesence, the chances are that the sense we made of things as children makes little sense.
As we grow, our childhood decisions become the unconscious templates of our adult motivation and action (the 40 million information bits per second that run our lives). Our conscious mind thinks that the world is projecting a series of events and relationships on to us. In fact, it is the other way around.
So here’s the rub. Our unconscious (childhood) movie gets projected on to our boss. We expect our boss to be a good, kind, loving parent. When they don’t behave as our childhood movie would like them to behave, we sulk or throw inner tantrums or leave. There is another way.
We can realise that our boss is just a man or woman, like us, doing their job. They have a whole raft of issues to deal with – both at work and at home. They are busy, preoccupied and human. If we have something going on with which we would like their help – we can approach them adult to adult.
We can let them know not only our problem but a reasonable solution to our problem, bearing in mind that we are only one part of our boss’s world.
If we show the boss that the solution to our problem also helps them to succeed we are likely to get a very good hearing and more help than we were expecting. If we approach the situation with the following mindset we are likely to be surprised by the positive response.
1. You want to (and can) build a good relationship with your boss.
2. You have a lot to offer and want to use your gifts to help yourself, your boss and your organisation succeed.
3. Your boss is a fallible human being who probably needs your help (they are definitely not our parent and you are not their child – you can however be their teammate and friend).
If after talking adult to adult with your boss you still want to leave, that’s as may be. The important thing is you will have learnt from the experience.
Margot Cairnes, an international change agent with a corporate consulting career spanning three decades, is the creator of the cloud-based training system, 12 Steps For Business (12SFB): email@example.com She will write regularly for The New Daily on management and leadership.