General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"

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gingerzing:
This is actually a question from my coworker Lee about our mutual supervisor.  I told Lee that I would ask the good people here on the board for some good catch phrases that would keep her polite/professional but still get the point across. 
BG - supervisor is VERY micromanagement and has driven off at least 3 good employees in the past 5 years but her manipulation to twist the facts and bringing up past failed ideas (small ones not bring down the company ones).  And trying to keep people from growing or expanding in their positions. 
Additional BG - Lee has been here not quite a year. She knows her field and is a manager-level position, but still reports to Supervisor.   

Lee and supervisor were at a recent meeting with our partner agencies.  Supervisor several times during the half day meeting would state some opinion or viewpoint and then turn to Lee and say "Don't you agree, Lee?" or "And I am sure Lee would agree with this."  When many times Lee does NOT agree with her, often on large points.  But even on other smaller issues.
Lee's quandry is that this is her supervisor and they are in front of people who they work with.  She would rather not make the impression that she is being disrespectful to these folks but really hates having her name tied to something she really doesn't agree with. 

Some examples, supervisor will say:
 "I feel that the option for this redesign is to put pink polkadots all over the front page.  Don't you agree Lee that that would be fun?"  (Er, no. pink polkadots would distract from our message.)
"I think that to move forward we need to have just this widget tracked and possibly have this gear carry the load."  (No, every widget needs tracked and if we are tracking one we can easily track all.  The gear can carry some load, but it is better if the widgets also distribute the work first)
"I think the clouds are looking especially fluffy today.  Lee would agree with this"  (Well, they are fluffy, but nothing especially noteworthy.)

So any way to politely counter Supervisor's all inclusive comments without looking like a complete naysayer everytime?  Added bonus, Lee and Supervisor had a meeting last week for Lee's review and Lee TOLD Supervisor that she was VERY uncomfortable with Supervisor making comments and then statements that made it sound like Lee was in agreement.  It is hard to explain the tone that Supervisor uses when she does this trick.  There are times she will say "And don't your agree, Lee?" similar to when you are reminding a small child to say thank you.  "And what do we say to the nice lady?" 

Additional question, Supervisor is also known to pull questions out of left field in meetings about topics that may be in the early stage development but not any where close to discussion with present company. 
New tracking device is being looked at, but not in place for several months.  Supervisor asked Lee to explain the ins and outs of the differences of the tracking device.  "Do you want to discuss the new tracker, Lee?"  (No, it isn't in place nor will it be for several months.  Other department and I are still looking into the possiblities with it.)

Thanks. 

TurtleDove:
I think Lee should just be honest and say what she thinks.  I am not certain what her job is, but I know for mine, I was hired not because they need a warm body but because they value my judgment.  I often disagree with coworkers and even my bosses. I simply and calmly state my reasons.  If I cannot articulate why I disagree, well, then that tells me something (like, maybe I need to learn more about it, or maybe I am wrong).  I would imagine people would respect Lee for stating her mind rather than simply being a yes woman.

DavidH:
From what you write, a flat out, "No, I don't agree" is going to be very confrontational, but another option would be to tone the disagreement down.  As in "Well, we could do pink polkadots, but on second thought we could also consider green stars which might be more aligned with out message."  It should be pretty clear that Lee doesn't agree at all, without being too direct about it.

MrTango:
I see a few possibilities for what's going on.  It could be one, multiple, or none of these, but these are my best guesses:

Listed from (in my opinion) benign to malignant:
1) Boss has a speech pattern that she isn't really aware of.  This is probably the most benign possibility because once she becomes aware of it, she will probably stop doing it eventually.
2) Boss is feeling insecure and is reaching out for support.  She's grasping for a lifeline and doesn't realize that it's making you feel like you're put on the spot.
3) Boss is feeling insecure and is reaching out for support.  She does realize she's putting you on the spot, but her own desire for validation is more important to her than your comfort.
4) Boss is deliberately trying to corner you into agreeing with her.  This might be because she needs the validation of a concurring opinion in order to get her bosses to go along with her ideas, or maybe she wants to make sure that if the ship sinks, she can drag you down with her.

In any case, my suggestion would be to go to boss (1-on-1) and mention that it feels like she's putting you on the spot to agree with her, and that when she says "don't you agree?", it makes you uncomfortable because even if you didn't agree, you feel pressured to go along with her suggestion.

Phrasing may be important too: "Even in a situation where I didn't agree with you, I'd feel pressured to..." is probably going to come across better than "Even in situations where I didn't agree with you, I felt pressured to..."

lorelai:

--- Quote from: gingerzing on January 16, 2014, 01:45:51 PM --- "I feel that the option for this redesign is to put pink polkadots all over the front page.  Don't you agree Lee that that would be fun?"  (Er, no. pink polkadots would distract from our message.)

--- End quote ---

How about redirecting to Lee's opinion? "That's one solution - but what do you think about plain blue for a nice understated look?"


--- Quote from: gingerzing on January 16, 2014, 01:45:51 PM ---"I think that to move forward we need to have just this widget tracked and possibly have this gear carry the load."  (No, every widget needs tracked and if we are tracking one we can easily track all.  The gear can carry some load, but it is better if the widgets also distribute the work first)
--- End quote ---

"That's one option - what do you think about tracking every widget because of ___ , and distributing the work so that ___?"

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