Author Topic: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"  (Read 4113 times)

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gingerzing

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Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« on: January 16, 2014, 01:45:51 PM »
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

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2014, 01:51:31 PM »
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

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2014, 02:01:49 PM »
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

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2014, 02:04:39 PM »
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

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2014, 02:05:39 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.)

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

"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)

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

greencat

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2014, 02:16:28 PM »
"Perhaps you misunderstood me when we discussed this before, Manipulative Supervisor, I had said X rather than Y about Topic."

"We're still in the early phases of that project - I will send out the information as it become available."

Lee may need to go to HR or supervisor's supervisor to address the issue that she is making false statements about Lee's agreement with her, in front of customers where it would make the company look bad when Lee expressed that she actually disagreed.

gingerzing

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2014, 02:31:19 PM »
Thank you so far.  I will let Lee know some of the ideas. 

Mr Tango - Generally it is a safe bet that Supervisor is going with option 3 more often than not.  And occasionally option 4 with a sidebar of claiming it was Lee's comment to begin with not hers. 
As mentioned Lee already told Supervisor she is uncomfortable with her using that tatic.
As to going to our supervisor's Boss, been done.  Nothing is accomplished and Boss will cover for Supervisor with something like it is "just her personality".  Comments were even made to have Lee's position not report to Supervisor but Boss said that it would "hurt Supervisor's feelings" if she couldn't have that position report to her.  (Yes, literally said that)  Also HR knows since at least 2 people that left told HR during exit interviews that Supervisor was the main reason for leaving.  By name. (To say that there is history with Supervisor is an understatement.)


DavidH, yes, out and out "no I don't agree with you." would cause issuestm

I just realized that Lee said that Boss was in the same meeting and noticed Lee's uncomfort when Supervisor said the "Don't you agree, Lee?" several times. 
(And Boss didnt say anything at the time or afterwards.)

Zizi-K

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2014, 03:19:48 PM »
Since Lee has asked her to stop, to no avail, and I'm sure Lee is already tried a number of evasive maneuvers, perhaps the solution is to disagree really blatantly and let the chips fall where they may. Later on, when boss is letting her have it, Lee can say, "Look I told you I wasn't comfortable with you asking me if I agree all the time. The truth is that I don't agree with you all the time, and if you keep asking that question you have to be prepared for my honest opinion."

Lee could in fact say this to the boss in advance of the next time. If Lee does go with this option, she should make sure to choose a scenario in which disagreeing would be very natural - like the pink polka dots example. It's an aesthetic choice (so disagreement would be normal) and also its sounds horrible - no one would agree with boss in this case.

JenJay

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2014, 03:30:14 PM »
I would look for any opening to use "however" phrasing such as "Well, I agree that pink polka dots would be cute, however, my concern would be..."

"I agree that the clouds are fluffy, however, I've been in the mood for rain recently. I just love a good storm!"

"I agree that widget A should be tracked, however, I think we should consider tracking the other widgets as well because..."

hajisaurus

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2014, 03:51:00 PM »
I'd suggest she point out the points, if any, she agrees with, and then state her opinion where it differs. E.g., "I really like what you said about the font. Great suggestion. However, with regards to the pink polka dots, I think that would be distracting. How about something simpler?"

Another point of order, when someone asks for agreement, is to acknowledge their opinion is being requested. "Don't you agree?" "Thanks for the chance to weigh in. Here's my thoughts: {rattle off list}"


Arila

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2014, 03:51:54 PM »
I might express my opinion that at first sounds like agreement, but is honest in the end.

"Well, my opinion/idea is more nuanced than that, while I agree that we need to find a way to make things more fun on the cover, I actually think that green stars would be more appropriate than pink dots" Or even, "I agree that we need to find a way to make things more fun on the cover, but why don't we finalize the design off-line?" - this acknowledges an idea which might be valid (cover needs to be more fun), but takes the disagreement about details out from the lime-light.

Or "Tracking widget1 is a good idea, and for the same reasons, I also think we should track the other widgets. There is no additional time or cost to do so, and we could use the data in x,y and z useful ways."

"Yes, I love the clouds today" (if it doesn't matter, it softens the other disagreements)

If there's absolutely NOTHING about what supervisor just said that can be agreed with, even on a secondary level, then "There must have been a miscommunication between us, perhaps we should discuss it further and present that at the next meeting instead"  This is neutral (no finger pointing about who miscommunicated, and also takes the disagreement out from in front of an audience).

Deetee

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2014, 03:55:19 PM »
I vote for finding something in the statement to agree with (enthusiastically and with a smile) and then clarifying why you don't agree with the implementation of the idea.

For example

 "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 totally agree that it would be a great idea to add a pop of colour to the redesign to catch the eye , but I don't think think polka dots are the best way. I prefer the eye-catching swoosh that Bob designed"

"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 agree that it would be good to simplify some of the data stream, but widget tracking won't help as very widget needs tracked due to the ISO9000 requirements and, fortunately if we are tracking one we can easily track all. "

"I think the clouds are looking especially fluffy today.  Lee would agree with this"  (Well, they are fluffy, but nothing especially noteworthy.)

"Yes, those are some fluffy clouds. According to Sue's calculation on page 45, they were 45% fluffier last week though"

Hmmmmm

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2014, 06:01:27 PM »
What Deetee said.

Half agree but then give your honest opinion.

I think the boss just has an unfortunate speech pattern, ya' know?  ;)

PastryGoddess

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2014, 07:43:51 PM »
I look at it as the opportunity to state my case.  I would say something that is neither agreement or denial first. 

Boss: Pink polka dots and purple stripes would look great on our new website, don't you agree
Lee:  Well that's an interesting idea,  However, I was thinking that something a bit more subdued would be better on our readers eyes

Boss: Lee agrees with me that pink polka dots and purple stripes would look great on the new website.
Lee: Actually, in the email I sent to you earlier, I mentioned that a soft soothing palette of chartreuse and viridian would be easier for our readers.  Maybe you didn't see that email.  I'll bring it up on my computer and also send it to everyone to evaluate

At no point does Lee have to agree.  However, there may be times when Supervisor forces a yes or no, possibly in front of clients.  Lee should be ready to vigorously defend her position if it isn't what Sup wants to hear

gingerzing

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Re: Boss states her opinion and then says "Don't you agree?"
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2014, 12:19:48 PM »
Thanks guys.  This is great help. Lee and I both appriciate the well-versed options. 
We have a big meeting in a few weeks and I am pretty sure Lee will get the opportunity to use a few of these coming up.