Truth in the Workplace
August 3, 2007
Be Truthful With Your Boss Without Getting Fired!
Your co-worker is driving you crazy! He spends most of his time playing poker online, then hints to the boss that it’s your fault when the work isn’t done. If you go to your boss to complain, you’ll look like a whiner. Or worse, maybe you’ll be fired for being a troublemaker!
You dropped the ball and lost an important client. Maybe you accidentally deleted some vital files, or did something that makes you fear you’ll be fired – should your boss ever find out. Or maybe it’s your boss who’s giving you problems. He’s talking over you when you make a presentation to a client and making you feel like two cents. Can you tell him how that makes you feel, or do you think you need to swallow your emotions in order to keep your job?
Telling the truth takes courage, whether it’s confessing to your own mistakes or trying to reach an understanding with your boss. Telling the truth in the workplace doesn’t mean being nasty or brutal, coming in with both guns blazing to clean up the wicked ways of the town. It does mean some serious preparation on your part and learning how to set up a “safe” situation in which the truth can be told.
Say you’re feeling disempowered by your boss. She’s making your life miserable, yet you’re scared of telling her how you really feel. Your entire time at work is being affected, and possibly your own health is at risk. You’ve got to do something, but what? How can we be true to ourselves and still keep our job?
First, sit quietly and contemplate the situation. Is it really your boss who is the problem? Or have you simply been too “polite,” withdrawn into a shell of acquiescence, so your boss doesn’t know what you’re actually capable of doing? Prepare what you want to say, and be ready to say it in the least offensive way possible. Write down every word and keep reading it out loud until you can say it very calmly. If you deliver your message in an emotionally-charged way, your boss is much more likely to get defensive… and we know where that can lead.
You don’t want to dump on your boss, client, co-worker, or yourself, but you do want to create a space for him to really hear where you are coming from. Help your boss understand how his actions and words, which may not have meant anything to him, have affected you. Most importantly, you want the boss to feel included in coming up with the answer to the problem rather than just being told what you think should happen. Creating a safe space means finding a way for open, authentic conversation to take place. If your boss feels attacked or ridiculed, you’re dead meat.
So, you can do it – you can tell the boss the truth if you create a safe space, feel well-prepared and emotionally calm and centered. And still collect your paycheck.