How to Handle Your Conflict-Averse Boss

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Do you have a manager who won’t advocate for you or your team? Is she afraid to say no to requests from above? Here are three ways to get what you need from even the most conflict-avoidant boss.

  • Focus on problem solving. If you need to talk about a difficult issue with your boss, focus on the problem, not people. Offer specific suggestions about how you might solve it.
  • Gather supporting evidence. If you want your supervisor to use her authority on your behalf, give her everything she needs to build her case: assemble data, write drafts, and zero in on how your request fits into larger unit or organizational goals.
  • Put it in writing. If your boss dreads face-to-face conversations, send him e-mails and brief documents outlining what you need. This will make it easier for him to engage in a productive conversation with you.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Managing Up and Across.

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