By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
Q. What kind of opinion does my boss have of me when anytime I have a conversation with him he either laughs at me or contradicts me? Consequently, I don't ask him questions or speak to him unless I really have to. How do I know what he thinks?
A. You can try calling your local "Workplace Psychic Friend's Hotline," or you can ask your boss about his behavior. Believe it or not, asking your boss questions about his tendency to laugh or contradict won't land you in hot water if you follow the strategy I'm about to offer you.
Consider the last time you saw a small child widen his eyes and ask a simple but powerful question. No one takes offense at such innocent curiosity and almost everyone will provide some information to such a nonthreatening way of getting information.
Your job is to make sure you don't use a sarcastic or angry tone of voice or body language when you ask your boss to give you data about his laugh or contradiction and use the wide-eyed curiosity of a child.
Let's do some time travel together as you are reading. Flash forward ... you are in conversation with your boss about the budget for 2012 and he laughs. Instead of making anything up about his behavior, stop, breath, and say: "I noticed you laughed about our budget. Can you give me information about that?"
Flash forward again ... you are conversing with your boss about the budget for 2012 and he contradicts the amount of money you need to spend for office equipment. You stop, breathe, and say: "It sounds like when you added up the amounts it will cost to buy the equipment you come up with another number. Can you tell me about that?"
Now come back into the present moment with me and notice there is nothing that will happen if you ask these questions except your boss will give you actual information about his reactions. Although I'm not the Workplace Psychic Friends Hotline, I predict that you will discover his laughs and contradictions are not personal. He simply has a different opinion or idea than the one you expressed.
Most of us make one major mistake over and over again. We think everything that everyone does is about us. The truth is almost nothing anyone does is about us. People are just too darn busy thinking about themselves to give us that much attention.
Once you know what your boss believes, you can give him better information if he is missing data, or you will have better information if you are missing data, and you won't have to avoid him because you think his reactions mean he doesn't like you.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). Contact her at www.interpersonaledge.com
or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This was printed in the July 15, 2012 - July 28, 2012 Edition