What if your boss is like Miranda Priestly?


As “Millennial Translators,” we are often asked to help the 23-34-year-old with social graces, as well as, how to manage their own negative thoughts and emotions. Many in this demographic, the trailblazers of “participation winners” have not practiced resolving conflict. Nor have they learned to set appropriate boundaries.

We sat down with a Fortune 50 CEO recently, and when we asked him what were some of his biggest challenges—retention—topped the list.​

He went on to say that they invest time and money to recruit, hire, and train someone, only to have a few months pass, and they are out the door. 91% of the time, it is because there is an unresolved conflict with a supervisor or boss, because they have been taught to avoid conflict. If the idea of approaching your supervisor to set some boundaries creates a pit in your stomach, read on for 5 tips on how to say “no” to a boss:​

  1. Actively clarify your role in the organization. If you are clear about your job expectations and requirements, repeat them back to your supervisor at the beginning of the week F2F and follow up with an email:“So, this week, and starting today, my goals are to contact and confirm with Sarah, Brad, and Kelsey on the project team, follow up with our clients, ABC via email and phone, and move forward with XYZ projects to meet our deadline on Thursday. Is there anything else you want me to do this week? Just a reminder to what you agreed to last month, I have a half day on Friday to attend my cousin’s wedding this weekend. I will be leaving at noon. If there is something else that comes up, I will be available Thursday until 6 pm and of course, Friday morning.”​
  2. Identify your personality and strengths, as well as those of your boss. Communication is cumbersome when we haven’t taken the time to recognize our supervisor’s personality style, to say nothing of our own personality preferences. The internationally renown Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which we as consultants and certified facilitators, provide to many, (http://www.myersbriggs.org/ ) offers us a quick mirror into the way we think, feel, and act. When we have added information about how another thinks, and makes decisions, we can approach communication better equipped for success. If you know your boss makes last-minute decisions, it is your responsibility to recalibrate and adapt your behavior by pre-planning.
  3. Shine Above and Beyond. We’ve worked with clients who’ve allowed themselves (yes, allowed) to be overrun by inappropriate scheduling and demands. Often the extended hours and work go sadly, unacknowledged. If this resonates with your current situation, and you don’t want to leave the organization, we recommend that while you are discreetly job-seeking elsewhere, you get creative and find ways to showcase your skills and talents to the CEO or others in high management within the organization. Is there a philanthropic cause you could spearhead, write a proposal, and take to the president of the company? When you show initiative outside of your work scope, others above your boss will take notice. When your boss asks why you didn’t come to them, you can say, “I know you’re so busy right now; I didn’t want to distract you.”
  4. Write it Down. There is a direct correlation when we write something down to its stickiness factor. Writing stimulates cells in the base of the brain, the reticular activating system (RAS) which filters the things that the human brain needs to process. It makes up focus in the moment and pay attention. Once written or typed, the human brain works overtime, but the ROI is that you retain the important information! We suggest that you write down not only your work/life goals, yet also a variety of scripts that will immediately address any challenges you foresee. Read them. Practice them. When a last minute directive is given to you, you have a prepared and gracious response.
  5. Set Boundaries. Repeat. At first, setting boundaries, might seem uncomfortable, especially if you have a people-pleasing tendency. Even if you’re in your dream job, or what you think is your dream job, setting boundaries is a critical element of your wellbeing. If the work culture does not promote an environment of wellbeing, maybe you are not in alignment with your goals. (Hello, Devil Wears Prada). To set boundaries, you can start by practicing at home or with an intrusive extended family member. If your boss continues to override your boundaries, you may want to polish your resume and seek out a better fit.

If your boss is like Miranda Priestly, “Find me that piece of paper I had in my hand yesterday morning,” recognize the silver lining: you’ve still survived the worst case scenario boss.

Poppy and Geoff are Licensed, Certified New Life Story Coaches, relationship and parenting experts, “Millennial Translators,” national speakers, authors of a #1 Bestseller, One Billion Seconds: There’s Still time to Discover Love, and Radio Show hosts who offer counseling for modern relationships with real results. Their 40+ years of working with multiple generations in the workplace garners them the title of “Millennial Translators.” With their trademarked diagnostic communication tool, and their proprietary programs, Poppy and Geoff help individuals, parents, CEO’s, managers, and Millennials, improve heart-healthy communication. Many of their clients come to them when in transition, and Poppy and Geoff help them gracefully transition from a job, or an unhealthy relationship.

Visit Poppy and Geoff on their website: Poppy and Geoff https://www.facebook.com/poppyandgeoff

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Poppy and Geoff Spencer