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[Professional Development]

6 Tips for Managing a Difficult Relationship With Your Boss

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6 Communication Tips for Managing Difficult Relationships at Work

Your relationship with your boss can have a huge impact on your life inside and outside of work. Our Founder, Leadership & Success Expert, Natalie Rea, knows this only too well! 

Natalie often speaks about being fortunate enough to have enjoyed some exceptional relationships with previous bosses, she has also experienced the pain of a difficult one. 

Natalie openly says there are things she did well, and definitely a few things she could have done better. The more she studied the mind, the more she realised how she could influence her relationships and therefore, how they affected her mental and emotional wellbeing. 

This article shares some coaching tips on how to avoid damaging mistakes in challenging relationships, so you can overcome difficult conversations with ease. 

Here are six personal development tips that you can use to tackle difficult relationships with your team leader and improve the dynamic between you . This is proven to have a huge impact on your wellbeing. 

Great line management is a powerful factor in mental health and wellbeing at work.*

When you invest in your relationship with your manager, it gives you the power to boost your wellbeing and it helps your Manager improve too; in turn positively helping the workplace  environment where you spend significant amounts of time.

1. Embrace 100% Accountability in Your Working Relationship

Blame is an instant relationship killer. 

If you’re allocating blame, you’ve damaged the relationship already. Sounds dramatic but it happens unconsciously, people around you feel the energy of blame in the air, even if we don’t know it consciously, our minds pick up on energy and can pick up on body language cues. 

It can be so easy to see a mistake and start pointing fingers, but what does this achieve? Shaming someone and passing the buck will only result in hurt feelings, damaged trust and respect and potentially conflict. 

No matter the mistake, you need to focus on what’s in YOUR control to fix it. Whether it’s you who’s made the error or someone else. 

When our experts first qualified in mind management, coaching, transformational change, NLP and hypnosis, the first pillar of training was on the link between accountability and a healthier mind. When you accept you are responsible for your results and see every challenge as a learning opportunity you can start to accept differences with more ease and use it as a catalyst for more growth, happiness and success in your life. 

You have power in every situation:

you’re in charge of your mind and your results. 

When it comes to business relationships, this is so vital. You can choose what to think about a situation, which in turn subconsciously changes your behaviours and communication with the other person. 

If you always look for how you could have helped or done something better, your willingness to hold your hands up, focus on self-development and take responsibility will attract respect and strengthen your relationship with your boss. 

 2. Get Ahead of the Problem: Ask for Feedback

How can you make a relationship better without having the key to open the door? 

You can only have that key once you’ve asked for it. 

Let your boss know that it’s important to you to strengthen your relationship and ask what you can do to improve how you work with them. 

Honest communication and the humility to listen are the ingredients for an incredible working relationship. 

We always recommend asking for feedback frequently. That way, things are less likely to fester and become bigger than they are (for both of you). 

Clearing the air and not letting things fester is great for mental wellbeing. Just because you throw a pen behind your back and you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. So, when you try and bury issues and move on, it still affects your mental wellbeing at work and even your emotional wellbeing outside of work. 

3. Choose Courageous Communication & Take Action to Resolve Tough Conversations

Be courageous and honest, It will help free your mind.

It’s often the case that difficult relationships exist because of a lack of communication. 

It can be hard to say things to your boss, especially if you think they won’t listen. Or worse, they could retaliate! 

If you’re choosing to think this, it’s on your shoulders. You’re limiting yourself. Full stop.

The only way to change something is to be courageous and take action. That may mean you need to face out those tough conversations. 

You could be pleasantly surprised! Things always seem bigger in our minds than they are in reality. 

Natalie has revolutionised business culture for several organisations by encouraging employees to give feedback; this achieved unexpectedly delightful results. In most cases, managers were deeply grateful for the feedback. After all, they can’t change what they don’t know! 

People make mistakes, regardless of job title or pay. 

If you strip back the judgement and treat them as you would like to be treated, with professionalism, patience, and kindness, you’ll be respected and, in many cases, celebrated. This will feel liberating for your mind and will help you improve your confidence and mental wellbeing. 

The worst-case scenario is that it doesn’t go particularly well, and they struggle to hear what you’ve got to say and nothing much changes. 

If this happens, you can hold your head high and be happy with the fact you were strong enough to face the issues you’re having. You can’t control their behaviour, but you can control yours. This is the key to personal growth.

Just keep in mind that they’re still your boss. Don’t go in all guns blazing or use threats; you may end up feeling you’re walking on a very thin tightrope! 

Just let them know that you feel honesty is important and that you have some concerns that you’d like to discuss, which when resolved will have an impact on your results and happiness within the position. 

4. What’s In It for Them? The Influential Communication Style that Improves Your Results 

Usually, if people are powerful and like a sense of control (which some difficult bosses do) storming in and telling them to change is doomed to failure. 

This behaviour doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care, it’s helpful to remember that behaviours can mean many different things, you never know what someone feels or is struggling with on the inside. 

Anything that sounds like an instruction tends to rebound like a tennis ball off a wall. You need to go into conversation, choosing to establish rapport, using positive tones and without a hint of accusation. 

If you want them to buy-in to what you’re saying, think about how to package up what you want to say. 

How will making a change benefit them? 

When there’s a noticeable benefit to them, you’re far more likely to find listening ears. It’s human nature to be interested in what’s in it for us. 

Think about the situation from several angles and look at it from their point of view. Consider the benefits to them taking on board your point. 

This will go a long way to fostering a good working relationship and create a mutually beneficial agreement, rather than sounding like take, take, take!

5. Work on Self-Improvement to Communicate Better

You may have noticed that the theme of this article is all about what YOU can do. That’s because it all starts with you. You’re responsible for your choices. 

The more you invest in personal development, yourself and your communication skills, the more progress you can make. 

Rewind the situation and challenge yourself to see, if you could re-play the situation, what could you change about what you did, which may have got a different outcome.  

Showing a commitment to personal growth and being coachable is something top companies look for in employees, particularly employees looking for progression.

6. Communicate Reliability: Focus On the Task in Hand

Regardless of the challenges you’re facing, your boss is employing you to do a job. They rely on you. 

If you allow the frustrations you feel to take over then your performance will go downhill. If your performance is through the floor, they’re far less likely to be inclined to improve their own actions for your benefit. 

Whereas if you show loyalty, commitment, and drive, they’re likely to respect and appreciate you. I know this can be difficult if they’re not treating you like that at the moment, and you may want to show them that poor performance is what they get if they treat you this way.

I would urge you to reconsider – 2 wrongs really don’t make a right in this situation and it will just continue to snowball into a worse professional relationship. 

Your most powerful influence with your boss is your performance and results. The more you achieve, the more influence you have, that’s why personal development is so beneficial for career progression. Our personal development memberships provide access to daily development journey that sets your mind and behaviours up for success, so you can develop, be happy and achieve more. 

Once you start thinking about and applying the tips from this articleyou’ll start to notice things improve. That often has a knock-on effect to your life outside of work as well. 

We really hope that you can enjoy the rewards that can come with these steps and that you don’t suffer any of the stresses of a poor relationship with your manager. 

Your subconscious mind is built with a programme to defend you. That’s why when we’re under emotional attack we often lash out and fight back. 

You need to remember that you’re in charge of this and be hyper aware of your behaviours. Figure out what impact you’re having on your relationship (and yourself) and find ways to improve. 

When you adopt a continuous personal development strategy in your life, you’ll find your personal and professional life changes for the better. You’ll be constantly evolving and developing, attracting better results and more happiness every day. 

Good luck in embracing these methods and let us know your results in our Life Ladder community! 

If you’d like to develop, feel happier and achieve more personally and professionally, you can find out about our personal memberships here.


Line management & mental health