Follow These Conversation Tips When Dealing With a Toxic Boss

Your boss is senior but not superior. When you recognize a problem, it’s time to address it. You shouldn’t be impulsive—it’s too hard to stay in dialogue when we’re angered, scared, or shocked. But with proper thought, a structured plan, and a repertoire of responses at the ready, it’s time.

Before you allow a lack of confidence and fear to take over, ask yourself: What will happen if you don’t have this conversation with your boss? What do you stand to gain if you do and get everything you need?

More deeply inquire into your feelings. What are you really feeling? Fear? What are you afraid of specifically, and what is this based on? Rewind the narrative that is triggering. When you separate fact from the story, you will stop reeling and restore enough calm to be intentional instead.

Understand Why Something Feels Wrong

Top tip: be very honest about whether you’re guilty of mind-reading (guessing what you think they think) and if your instincts are to avoid confrontation.

Consider What You Will Gain From a Courageous Conversation With Your Boss

You will want something that frames your partnership purpose. You should avoid being personal or getting defenses up at the outset.

Craft a Courageous Conversation Starter

By rehearsing three times, you can shift from truth to perception and from accusations to feelings. You will have the skill to keep reframing and keep communication open.

Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.

Anticipate what they might say. Then adjust what you say and how you say it until you can genuinely imagine a flow to the dialogue. You are practicing staying open by doing this.

Grade Your Third “Outside” Script

Have three points in mind that invite a partnership approach to move past your points of difference — notice, I didn't say “problems” — so you can concentrate on succeeding again.

Tackle Your Points of Difference as a Partnership

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