An argument with your boss will make the workplace feel awkward. There’s always a time and place for disagreement, or at least fair and respectful constructive criticism.
Once in a while, some people may get carried away and turn what would have been a productive discussion into a full blown argument.
Arguments don’t always lead to employees losing their jobs, as long as they weren’t egregiously ugly. Employees who can fix the situation and restore the harmony may not even see any consequences, provided they act quickly and appropriately.
If you’ve just gotten into a verbal tiff with your boss, you’ll need to act soon – no matter whose fault it was.
1. Give Yourself an Intricate Assessment
An argument involves two people. You need to start by examining yourself, and how you contributed to the argument. Even if it started with your boss angering or upsetting you, you need to consider what you did in response that escalated the situation.
Maybe you let your feelings get too far ahead of your thoughts. Maybe you’d let some unresolved issues accumulate, resulting in a heated exchange.
You can’t assume what your boss was thinking at the time, or what your boss should have done differently. Taking a personal inventory allows you to form the right response to the situation.
Be willing to accept the mistakes you’ve made – if you deny them all and reject the notion of accountability, you won’t be able to grow personally and professionally.
2. Give Your Boss an Intricate Assessment
You can’t get inside your boss’s head, and it might be inappropriate to ask probing questions. Instead, you’ll need to take what you know and piece together your observations. Is your boss obviously going through a rough time right now?
Has the workplace been extremely stressful or shorthanded? If your company going through major transitions that have put a lot of pressure on your boss? These factors may have contributed to the argument you had.
Developing some empathy for your boss’s position will help you form the proper apology. When you have a solid grasp of all the factors affecting the situation, you can choose your words carefully. You can avoid hitting tender nerves or bringing up issues that may have started the argument in the first place.
You may come to the conclusion that your boss did or said things that were objectively wrong, regardless of the circumstance. If your boss used offensive language or direct insults at you, especially if you weren’t speaking in the same manner, this may be larger than the typical workplace argument.
Seriously contemplate whether or not you can continue to work with your boss in situations where you were made to feel unsafe, denigrated, or discriminated against – especially if other employees have expressed a similar sentiment. This is an issue that HR needs to address immediately.
3. Learn the Art of Apologizing
Genuine apologies are the only apologies that matter. When you make thorough use of the word “but” or try to explain why you did the things you did, it might appear that you’re attempting to shift the blame onto someone else.
A true apology is thorough ownership for one’s own part in a dispute or a bout of misbehavior that doesn’t address or reflect upon the other party in any way. If they have something to apologize for, they need to recognize that on their own. They may not, but you can’t control what your boss does.
Even if both you and your boss raised your voice, it’s not up to you to address what your boss did. You might have been yelling in response, but that wasn’t important. What’s important is that you chose to react that way, and that’s exactly how you need to accept ownership of it.
If you have a great boss, he or she might feel compelled to apologize for what was done in response to your apology. Blameless apology opens the door for a productive dialogue where both people can begin the discussion about what they need to do better.
This may not happen right away because your boss might not yet be ready. At the very least, minds will be kept open and you’ve handled your own part.
4. Modify Your Behaviors
Saying you’re sorry but not acting like your sorry won’t make much of a difference. If your boss has taken an issue with recurring behaviors or a workplace problem that’s been ongoing.
To demonstrate that your apology was sincere, you need to make sure that your actions are matching your words. If you don’t fully commit yourself to your efforts, you’re going to find yourself back in the same position. This might lead to permanent career damage, so it’s crucially important to devote yourself to professional betterment.
Even if your boss laid out some feedback or criticisms that seemed exceptionally harsh, you need to show that you were receptive to what was said. Have you really been showing up late a lot? Make an effort to come in five minutes early as often as you can.
If your boss said that you’ve been argumentative or arrogant, take every opportunity you can find to be receptive and humble. Let everyone see that you’ve acknowledged your wrongdoing and are making an effort to restore peace and harmony.
5. Prevent The Situation from Recurring
Arguments leave some lingering tension. It might take a few weeks for things to fully cool down. While tensions are still high, another argument is much more likely to happen. You might need to take a day to apologize if you feel too strongly about the situation to be able to apologize without a bias.
No matter how you decide to handle the argument and its aftermath, you need to be sure that your emotions aren’t affecting your ability to move forward.
It might feel embarrassing when the argument happened recently, but that’s a feeling that will dissipate with time. You likely depend on your boss for a lot of things, but it’s important to remember that your boss is also depending on you.
Symbiotic relationships are the easiest to repair, and if you’re both competent professionals, you’ll be able to let the past go.