Bosses: Can’t live with ’em, can’t throw on your headphones and ignore everything they say. Actually, there are plenty of great supervisors out there, but even the best of them sometimes propose truly terrible ideas. You can tell right away their suggestions are non-starters, but what are you supposed to do? If the wacky idea comes via email, it’s easy enough to ponder and respond to, but sometimes, your boss catches you off guard while chatting on the phone or talking in person. How do you handle those situations?
According to Sara McCord — a Daily Muse columnist who serves as “chief editing Dasher” at Stiletto Dash, a company devoted female business travelers — there are ways you can poo-poo your higher-up’s awful idea without looking insubordinate or stubborn. In her recent article “How to Respond to a Crazy Idea from Your Boss,” McCord offers up two great tips. Keep reading to get her advice.
1. Imagine a Scenario It Might Work — McCord has personal experience with this topic, and she shares the story of a boss who wanted to ask a company whose facility they were renting to go a step further and actually host an upcoming event. McCord dreamed up “a universe in which the idea could work” and framed her response like this: “Surely, that’s something that might be of interest to them in three to five years. However—first things first—we have to throw a successful event to show them that we can draw their crossover audience.” She then told the supervisor how “unprofessional” it would make them seem, but by that time, she’d gained the credibility needed to make such a criticism.
2. Get More Info — There are two magic words here: “I’m confused.” If you start your response with that phrase and seek clarification on key points, “you seem curious (as opposed to defensive) while still satisfying your desire to figure out what the heck is going on,” according to McCord.