Counseling Corner: Reducing cnflicts with your boss

Counseling Corner
Graphic by Robyn H. Jimenez/The Dallas Examiner


American Counseling Association


If you’re in a work situation where you have a strong, positive relationship with that supervisor or boss above you, congratulations. While it definitely does happen, this is not always the case for many of us in our jobs.

Good relationships with a supervisor require effort on your part, but it’s effort that pays dividends.  Studies have shown that one of the most important things affecting someone’s job performance, stress levels, and overall job satisfaction and happiness is the relationship they have with the person above them.

Your work relationship will usually improve when you take a more proactive role in creating that relationship.  You can start by trying to understand what is important to him or her as a person. Are there pet peeves or things about your department or company that matter greatly to him or her? Is your boss stuck with having a difficult boss?

A basic rule is to try to understand what your supervisor actually expects from you. It isn’t always obvious. You may need to ask questions and seek clarification. Does he or she value timely reports, meeting deadlines and showing initiative? Is a certain dress code important? Are there things that may seem trivial to you but that matter to him or her? Understanding what’s important to your boss makes it easier to meet those goals or to discuss alternatives that will keep him or her satisfied.

It also helps to be flexible and understanding. It may not be clear why a meeting was rescheduled or that deadline moved, but it wasn’t done simply to upset you. Understand that your boss also faces deadlines and pressure. Most bosses appreciate employees who can accept that there was usually a good reason for the changes.

It’s important to open up communication. Take the initiative. Keep him or her up to date on how things are progressing, and make it easy for your boss to talk to you. Share ideas and concerns, and give weight to the things that your boss seems troubled by.

Make building a positive relationship with your boss part of your responsibilities. Recognize that it starts with you. None of us is capable of changing another person, only ourselves. Working to establish a relationship with your boss that shows your understanding and flexibility can lead to a more positive, enjoyable work environment where sharing ideas and positive accomplishments can flourish.


Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions can be sent to or visit



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