Sometimes the boss says no. Sometimes they shouldn't. But, no isn't always the right answer, and you can push back. Judy Galbraith and Jim Delisle compiled a list of ideas of how gifted teens can respond to teachers in their book The Gifted Teen Survival Guide, and they apply surprisingly well in the business world. Granted, you're not students and your bosses aren't your teachers, but the relationship can be surprisingly similar.

So, here's what you can say when your boss says no.

I can't make an exception for you.

Advice for teens: "That's okay with me, since I think there are a number of students who might benefit from being allowed to..."

How this applies to employees: This comes up all the time when you want flexibility on something. I can't let you work at home because then everyone will want to. Point out how many people can benefit from what you're asking for and how it will be better for the business. Happy employees are productive employees.

An employee can pretty much use this exact phrase when speaking with their bosses. Often, the benefit you want isn't unique to you and others can benefit. Of course, under law, if your request is related to a reasonable accommodation for a disability, they may be required to make an exception for you. (This is also true of students, as schools are subject to ADA and many other laws.)

It's always been done this way.

Advice for teens: "I know. And I'm sure there are probably some very good reasons for that. But how about letting me try this one time, and if it doesn't work, I'll agree to go back to the way that it's been done in the past?"

How this applies to employees:   Tradition is fabulous! But, just because it has been that way in the past doesn't mean it needs to be that way in the future. The report has always been done in Word, sure, but doing it in Excel is faster and allows more flexibility. Your boss may agree, smugly thinking that you'll fail, but then you can show her that the new way can be better. Although, caution: your boss may be right and you may fail. But, failure is okay too!

It would cause chaos in my classroom.

Advice for teens: "I'd be willing to help see that chaos doesn't prevail. I could form a small committee of students who really care and who would help set some guidelines that would keep order in the classroom. We'd agree that if things got out of control, we'd lose this opportunity."

How this applies to employees: This type of situation--what you want will cause chaos in the office--comes up with micro-managing super strict managers. No, you can't eat at your desk because then the ants will come in and build nests and then the building will be condemned! It can be a real trick to get such a manager to agree.

However, agreeing to set rules in the beginning and acknowledging that there is a stopping point can be helpful when trying to convince such a boss.

While the classroom is different from the workplace, the power structure is often similar. 

Published on: Feb 26, 2019
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