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How to Best Share Your Frustration With Your Boss

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All kinds of frustrating circumstances can arise in the workplace. Maybe you're having trouble compromising with a colleague, struggling with limited resources or running into communication problems with a key client. Regardless of your frustrations, getting input and support from your boss can go a long way toward rectifying difficult situations.

Document the Frustrations

It's not enough to go to your boss and say, “I'm really frustrated, and I need help.” You can present a more compelling argument if you detail the specifics of the problems you're facing. Document issues so you can reference them in your conversation. For example, you might say, “One of my clients is continually placing late orders and complaining if they aren't filled immediately. I've gotten three angry phone calls in the last month and the client is now threatening to pull their business. I've tried to explain that late orders will be processed as soon as possible, but I don't seem to be getting my point across.”

Talk to Your Boss

Arrange a time to sit down privately with your boss and go over your most pressing frustrations. Don't corner him between meetings, or bring up issues in a group forum designed for other purposes. If it’s hard to get face time, outline your concerns in writing and email them to your boss. This allows you to provide details about frustrating situations. It also gives your boss time to read through each one and get a firm understanding of how he can help before the two of you meet one-on-one to discuss solutions.

Maintain Your Cool

Some frustrations can be difficult to talk about without tempers flaring, especially if they involve colleagues or even the boss himself. Strive to maintain your cool and present only the facts, not judgments. Go into discussions with a goal of reaching a solution that benefits everyone. If you feel yourself losing control of your emotions, calmly state that you need a few minutes to compose yourself. This allows you to maintain a professional demeanor and reduces the risk of saying something you may later regret.

Devise Potential Solutions

If you go to your supervisor with a litany of complaints and no solutions, you're not likely to get the support you're seeking. Instead, go into the discussion prepared with recommendations for how frustrations might be alleviated. For example, if you're dealing with a cubicle mate who eats potent-smelling food at her desk throughout the day, express your frustration to your boss. Suggest a memo be drafted that prohibits eating at desks, or ask if you can be moved to a different location. The more solutions you prepare, the greater the potential that your boss will help you reach a resolution.


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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