My Boss and I Were Friends

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about disapproval of boss who was once a friend:

My boss and I were friends once and now she has let the job go to her head. At times she is overbearing and says things to me that I am uncomfortable to respond to as an employee. I feel she looks down at me and I don’t know how to tell her I don’t like the way she speaks to me, without getting in trouble.

Signed, Afraid To Say I Don’t Like It

DearĀ Afraid To Say I Don’t Like It:

In short you are working scared. You think she will penalize you in some way if you speak your mind and tell her you feel she speaks disrespectfully to you. It is not uncommon for anyone to feel afraid to tell the boss she/he is wrong. You have three options: 1.So far you have chosen to bite your tongue, but you boil inside. 2. Risk confronting her or 3. Bypass her– complain about her to her boss or Human Resources.

The second option is the only sensible one. Log instances in which you feel she has looked down on you. Be specific in what ways and the words/looks she has displayed. Recall where and when and if others observed them. Then think about why she behaved as she did and if you provoked any of them. Walk in her shoes for a few days; seeing her responsibilities and how she thinks she must make things in your workplace run smoothly and effectively. With this in mind and your log, you are ready to request a private session. In such a session, you can ask, “Alice, can I be frank about how I feel?” And if she says, “No”, then you will have to decide how to tread softly. If she says, “Yes”, you can say that you understand that since she has been appointed boss, she must not show favoritism. But say you miss her friendship; especially so because you get the feeling that she looks down on you and speaks to you disrespectfully. She is likely to ask, “When, did I do that?” Here is where your log comes in. Talking about specifics will give her a chance to explain or deny.

More importantly, it is an opportunity for you to say how you prefer to be spoken to. Such a meeting is an opportunity to ask if there are things you are doing or fail to do that bother her. Also such a session is a time to commit yourself to making her job of bossing easier. How? By being understanding of what she must do and offering to assist. How? By thinking about ways to cut wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy and money. Do you consider option 2 something that you can do? Think about it carefully. Don’t expect one session to be a quick fix. Stop thinking of you are a rejected friend. Don’t gossip about your boss. Let us know what you elect to do and how it goes. I predict things will go better if you understand that working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden