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Disagree with boss and keep your job

By Kate Lorenz,
  • Gen. Stanley McChrystal isn't the first general who clashed with commander-in-chief
  • It's HOW you disagree with your boss that can make or break your employment
  • Get your motivation clear and start by clarifying your respect and intent
  • Lead with facts, monitor boss' reaction and invite discussion

( -- People are losing their jobs left and right these days, and it's not because of the economy. It's because of what they say.

President Obama relieved Gen. Stanley McChrystal of his job as commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan Wednesday, because of negative remarks the general and his aides made about several officials in the Obama administration that were published in a Rolling Stone magazine article. The comments made were pretty clear that the general did not agree with many of the policies and decisions made about the war in Afghanistan.

McChrystal isn't the first U.S. general to be sacked by a commander-in-chief. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman are among those who have done the same during wartime.

In a statement, Obama gave his reasons for the decision:

"The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan."

While not everyone is going to be the subject of Rolling Stone feature, more and more people are airing their grievances bosses to the public via Facebook, Twitter and texting ... and getting in trouble for them.

For every story you see in the newspaper about this issue, I bet there are many more that aren't reported. Just this week, a friend told me she might have to let an employee go based on a Facebook post.

So can you disagree with your boss without losing your job? Yes, but it's how you do it that can make or break your employment.

Most importantly, you should do is address the issue directly with your boss in a respectful manner. Joseph Grenny, coauthor of "Crucial Confrontations," gives some tips on how to do this.

1. Get your motives right. Sometimes we wait to bring up concerns until we're irritated. This is ineffective because at that point our goal is no longer to be constructive, it's to punish. Before opening your mouth, ask yourself, "What do I really want?"

2. Start with safety. Begin by clarifying your respect and your intent. Help your boss understand that your intent is to provide a different viewpoint you feel will help achieve your mutual goal.

3. Start with the facts. Once you've created safety, you start describing your concerns facts first. Don't lead with your judgments or conclusions. Start by describing in non-judgmental and objective terms the behaviors that are creating problems.

4. Don't pile on. As you lay out the facts, monitor safety. If your boss becomes defensive, pause for a moment and check in. Reassure them of your positive intentions and allow them to express any concerns they have.

5. Invite dialogue. Finally, having shared your concerns, encourage your boss to share their perspective. Invite dialogue. The result of your openness will be a greater openness on your boss's part as well.

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