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Having Difficult Conversations With Your Manager

Video Transcription: How to Have Difficult Conversations with Your Manager

Mustering up the courage to have a tough conversation with your manager can be nerve-wracking. Whether you want to ask for a raise, discuss a poor performance evaluation or an important issue with a co-worker; your manager isn't a mind reader. So, it's probably going to be up to you to initiate that difficult conversation.

Here are five tips to help you get through that tough talk with your manager.

  • Make sure to have a clear plan, purpose, and agenda before you meet. What issue do you need to address? What might a resolution look like for you? As you reflect, take time to adopt a bird's eye perspective and consider the opposing point of view. If it's helpful for you to jot down an outline, do so.
  • You can also try rehearsing your conversation with a trusted confidante. Whether or not you used an outline, focus on key points during your conversation. This is not the time to go off on tangents. By all means, tell your story, but bring facts and present your case objectively.
  • Don't be critical or condescending. If you want to discuss a poor performance evaluation for example: "why did you mark my performance as below expectations this quarter. I did everything I was asked to do. I think you were just too focused on your own issues to notice the value I bring to this company. I was disappointed to read that my performance this quarter was below expectations. Could I share with you now some accomplishments that I couldn't address in the evaluation and that you might not be aware of? I'm hoping that if I present you with some new information we might be able to adjust the evaluation. Regardless, any advice do you have for me would be much appreciated."
  • Which brings us to the next point. Remember that this is a conversation and to ask for your manager's feedback. Really listen and be receptive to what she has to say. Remain calm and be professional. Odds are your manager wants the best for you and your company.
  • During your conversation, if you notice you're becoming anxious, defensive, or discouraged, recenter yourself and remember to breathe.

By being prepared, focused, objective, perceptive, and professional, you'll be putting your best foot forward and your manager will be open-minded to hearing your point of view. No matter the outcome, you should be proud of yourself for initiating and successfully handling a tricky conversation.

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