Preparing for a Tough Conversation with Your Boss

In the last few weeks, several people have told me about their plans to have conversations with their respective bosses about raises, promotions, or changes to work arrangements. Knowing that one of the business classes I teach at Vanderbilt University is Negotiation, each person asked how I would handle these potentially tough conversations.

Like any negotiation, successfully making these types of requests starts long before you engage in discussion. Getting it right means that you work to truly RELATE to your boss’s needs, concerns, and interests. By RELATE, I mean that you follow my six-step process of Realize, Explore, Look, Ask, Think, and Engage.

This week’s tool and video are designed to help you to get these steps right. I encourage you to put them to good use as you:

1 – Realize Differences

Taking your boss’s perspective begins with realizing that your boss likely sees things differently than you. What you consider fair or reasonable might be viewed very differently from their perspective.

2 – Explore the Situation

Understanding that your boss’s perspective is different than yours helps you to explore the unique pressures, requirements, or expectations that your boss is experiencing. Work to truly understand what is going on in your boss’s environment from a 360-degree perspective.

3 – Look into Interests

With a general understanding of your boss’s situation, begin to look into your boss’s priorities, concerns, and performance goals. Consider where your boss’s interests lie and what truly matters most to your boss based on your environmental analysis.

4 – Ask for Understanding

Once you have a general understanding of your bosses’ environment and interests, talk to your boss and ask questions based on what you’ve learned in the first three steps of the process. Focus on your boss’s wants and needs; don’t make it about sharing yours.

5 – Think of Contributions

Invest time to think about the contributions you have made in the past and those that you can accomplish in the future. Pay particular attention to your past and future contributions that directly align with your boss’s top issues. Consider how the requests you wanting to make will generate contributions to your boss’s most important goals.

6 – Engage in Discussion

Based on your work in the previous five steps, now it is time to talk to your boss. Frame the discussion not solely around what you want, but how what you want will your boss, team, and organization to get what they want. The irony is that if you focus on creatively helping your boss to win, you can win too.

We have designed a graphic to help you to remember these six steps. Grab a pdf of the tool in our Tool Vault.

Make it a great day!  Patrick

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Leave a Comment