Managing Conflict with Your Boss
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As individuals, we can be creative and ambitious in our personal lives and in our professional lives. But individual efforts can’t always match the energy and productivity of a group. Cultures, societies, clubs, schools, and militaries arose out of our need to band together for mutual support. Organizations were created to deal more effectively with the environment—both the natural world and the world of work. But there is a trade-off when we move from individual contributions to group efforts: the relationships necessary for working together can spawn conflict.
In organizations, tensions between individuals need to be defused, or focused in order to find productive solutions to problems. This is especially critical when conflict arises between people at different levels in the organization, such as when you are having a conflict with your boss. These tensions aren’t easy to handle. Conflict can generate discomfort, anger, and ineffective behavior. Feelings such as fear and resentment can rise to the surface. Organizational issues such as unclear lines of authority, power, politics, and ineffective support systems also come into play.
Although these internal and external factors create a rich and complicated landscape for conflict to flourish, a conflict with your boss doesn’t necessarily spell the end of your career with an organization. There are steps you can take to gain perspective on conflict and to manage the conflict so that it focuses your energy and your boss’s energy on the needs of the organization, moving both of you toward a more productive working relationship.
- Wiley, August 2011
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