Called Me A Liar

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a manager calling her/him a liar: She answered, “OK, I apologize”, but in a grudging manner. Can I take this further?

My area manageress called me a liar regarding cleaning of a machine I told her that it was cleaned less than a week ago, and again she said, “No way.” I said, “I don’t like being called a liar” as I genuinely told the truth. She then said, “Let’s move onto something else. Where I answered, “I’m not happy that you called me a liar.” She said< We have moved onto something else now.” I said, “No. I expect an apology. She answered, “OK, I apologize”, but in a grudging manner. Can I take this further?

Signed,

Can I?

Dear Can I?:

Of course you can. Never let her forget it. Report to Human Resources your boss called you a liar. You can gossip to coworkers that she apologized grudgingly. You can make a federal case of it. Or you can play and replay this incident in your head until it festers. But what good will do?

People don’t like to be coerced to apologize. It makes them feel like they have been told by their parents, “You called Sam a bad name; now you must go over to his house and tell him you are sorry in front of his mother and dad. Do you hear? Apologize before supper.” “Move on” was her way of saying “I can’t prove it.” Finally she bowed to you, however grudgingly, to say, “I apologize.”

What kind of working relationship do you want with your boss? Have you ever praised her for doing anything well? She might not do many things to suit you and seem to be more a police officer than a coach, but just suppose you surprised her by saying, “Thanks for wanting our machines clean. I understand that you were right by saying, “Move on.” Then say no more. I predict she will reply, “Thanks, Joe. I appreciate you trying to do good work.” That might lead to talk about what’s ahead, or simply improve how you two can cooperate. Would it please her if checked with her about ways to make the work go more smoothly or improve the quality of what you do?

Almost everyone comes across ways do things that can improve their work or to cut wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy and wasted money. That’s the kind of talk a boss should welcome. I’ve trained team-building in a company that was up against improving production or shutting down. It was no longer workers against bosses. It was pull together or else. Your company probably isn’t facing or else, but nevertheless its success hinges on the boss and bossed working collaboratively. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. One small but important part of that is not fighting battles over the small stuff.

William Gorden