Penny Tremblay

Penny Tremblay

By Penny Tremblay

Recently I was asked how one could approach their boss to communicate disagreement in their leadership skills and plans for the organization. If you ever have mixed feelings about whether you should approach a delicate subject or not, and how to do it, this article will give you some ideas.

Try my method of the three A’s:

    1. Approach
    2. Appreciate
    3. Ask

Approach – To approach the situation or not, that is the question most people struggle with. Do I bring the topic of conversation up to benefit the whole office culture, or will I be shooting myself in the foot?

I feel that if your intentions are solely meant to help, then it is worth following an intuition fuelled by good intention. If your intention is based on envy, or meant only to pass judgement or criticize, then take a look into the mirror for the true root of this problem.

Assuming that the intentions are to embrace productive conflict, the objective type that is based on issues such as ideas, actions, decisions, systems or procedures, then move to the next step. If the conflict is the subjective type based on personality conflict, anger, frustration, negative attitudes or ill motives, then hold off and go back to that mirror suggestion above and see your part in this problem.

Appreciate – Once you have decided to proceed with the conflict resolution, begin with *genuine* appreciation. When people are validated, they feel good about themselves and open up their minds to what you have to say. (Notice the emphasis on the word genuine? All compliments or words of acknowledgment or encouragement should be true. If you cannot think of something genuine and positive about a person’s skills or abilities, then you are not thinking hard enough.)

Ask – Ask your leader if they are open to receiving constructive feedback about … fill in the blank. For example “Are you open to receiving my opinion on the leadership skills and plans for our organization”. If they approve or show interest in your opinion, begin.

Another question I get regularly, “Just what do I say to a bad leader?” First, separate the person from the problem. It’s not the leader that is bad, it is their behaviour that is bad (in your opinion). Next, start by visualizing the positive result, and that good intention will bring the right words to you.

As mentioned in a previous article Embrace Conflict, teams that embrace healthy conflict based on objective issues of systems and processes are high functioning teams, and they approach conflict to overcome obstacles that strengthen them and exercise good communication skills, therefore always enhancing their abilities to meet their objectives.

Now you have a formula to act on communicating a delicate subject. Approach, appreciate and ask for permission to share your opinion with your leader, boss, employers or employees. You will all be strengthened in the process.


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