Standing Up to Your Boss

Nancy Anderson
Posted by in Career Advice

With so many personalities, stressors and challenges at play in any work environment, conflicts are bound to occur. It's how you handle these issues that truly determines your conflict-resolution skills and professionalism. While you may be adept at handling conflict with colleagues, it's often more difficult and uncomfortable to confront a superior. Follow these six tips to stand up to your boss.

1. Propose a Time

If a superior says or does something to offend or upset you, don't react immediately. Give yourself time to calm down before confronting the person. Don't just try to catch your boss between meetings, and never try to confront a superior in front of other colleagues. Check your boss's calendar and schedule a face-to-face meeting so you both have time to prepare and give the discussion your undivided attention.

2. Formulate a Plan

Take the time to prepare for your meeting. Create a list of topics you plan to discuss with your boss. Be prepared with distinct examples of your boss's unacceptable behavior, and be ready to explain how his actions impeded your ability to perform your job functions effectively.

3. Mind Your Words

Be confident in your interactions with your boss, and don't let your emotions take hold. "You" statements are likely to make your boss feel attacked and could put him on the defensive, so try using "I" statements to explain your point of view instead. Replace "You don't listen to my feedback" with "I feel like my opinions are not being heard."

4. Be Direct

Maintain a self-assured tone throughout the interaction with the superior. If your boss has been exhibiting bullying behaviors toward you, make it known that this treatment is unacceptable and that you intend to take further action if things don't improve immediately. Mention going to human resources or filing a legal complaint.

5. Offer a Solution

Rather than spending the entire meeting discussing your issues and complaints, propose some potential outcomes that are acceptable to you. This shows initiative and takes some of the responsibility and pressure off of the superior. If you're feeling overworked by your boss, talk about the potential for hiring an intern or reducing your workload.

6. Bring in Human Resources

If your meeting with your boss doesn't resolve your issues, don't be afraid to go to human resources for help or advice. Further, if you're afraid that the interaction with your superior may turn into a volatile situation, ask someone from HR to attend the meeting with you.

While you don't want to be disrespectful or insubordinate in dealing with your boss, you don't have to be a "yes" man either. Don't back down; follow these six tips to stand up to your boss and handle conflict in a constructive way.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at


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  • Samuel C.
    Samuel C.

    Good job that the way your handle the situation

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