Supervisors often tell me, “Don’t come to me with complaints. Come to me with ideas.” Take that advice to heart and bring some ideas to the table.

3. When you do come with ideas, frame them in the form of suggestions or recommendations. Notice the difference between offering a possible next step or another way to do this could be and a “You should to fix this” attitude or expectation for what will change. The person is in a position of authority and does not need to accept your ideas as is. Offering suggestions vs. demands is a better and more respectful way to offer an idea.

4. If you don’t get a positive response and you really think the concern needs to be addressed, circle back at least one more time. “I know you weren’t open to hearing about this the last time I approached you. I still believe the concern is still an important one. Are you open to hearing about it now?” or “I continue to see this issue as being a concern. Is this a better time to talk?”

Tips for sharing something challenging with your supervisor

I have known people who say, “They didn’t listen to me when I told them so forget about it. It can all go down the toilet.” There is a more conscientious and mature way to manage your frustration and change practice by reintroducing the issue at another time with suggested next steps that are still in your back pocket.

It can be scary to talk to those who are in positions of authority, but it is necessary to bring concerns to those who have the influence. How you bring those concerns to the individual with confidence and control will help you be heard.

About the Author:

Jennifer Abrams is an international education and communications consultant. She considers herself a voice coach, helping others learn how to best use their voices–be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague, or supervising an employee. Abrams’ books include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicate, Collaborate, and Create Community, and Hard Conversations Unpacked: the Whos, the Whens, and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course. Abrams writes a monthly newsletter/blog, Voice Lessons, at Follow her on Twitter @jenniferabrams.