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I'm interning at a company, and I have a new project. After my manager explained it to me, I went to my desk, researched it a bit and mulled it over, then returned to his office:

Me: "So for this project, I guess I should do Thing A?"
Manager: "Why would you do Thing A? That doesn't make sense. You should talk to Guy. He deals with this type of thing. He can help you get started."

So the next day, I talked to Guy:

Me: "Guy, Manager told me you would be able to help me. How should I start this project?"
Guy: "If I had to do a project like this, I would start by doing Thing A."

My dilemma how can I go back to my manager and getting him to sign-off on doing Thing A. How can I present this to him without coming across as combative or adversarial? I don't want to prove him wrong; I just want to do a good job.

  • I've done a fairly significant trimming down of this question to focus on the specific thing you want an answer to, as I think that makes it a better question for The Workplace. If you really don't like this, you can of course revert the change. – Philip Kendall Nov 13 '17 at 23:05
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    Just stick to the facts: "Manager, I talked to Guy about the project and he suggested Thing A." Optionally verify with Guy first: "Guy, are you sure we should do Thing A? Manager seemed skeptical when I mentioned it." – Brandin Nov 13 '17 at 23:07
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You're an intern, right?

You're not expected to know much of anything. Otherwise you'd be the Manager. :)

I would handle it by going ahead and doing Thing A, and when my manager said "Hey, I told you not to do Thing A" I would respond "You told me to talk to That Guy and he said Do Thing A, so I am". Which is why I'm not in management after 20 years.

I would recommend that you go back to That Guy and say "Hey, you said A and the Manager said Not A. Do you know why he would say Not A, then tell me to talk to you and you say A?"

Then go back to your manager and say "Sir, I talked to That Guy and he said that I should start with Thing A. You say I shouldn't. Since both of you are very experienced in this area, and have different views I'm trying to learn how these decisions get made".

The key is not to question his decision or his advice, but to request understanding of how he came to his decision, or what was underlying his advice.

The trick, of which I do not have the nack, is phrasing that the right way.

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    I would go back and check with the senior first before potentially wasting time - if the senior is made aware that boss thinks A is not the right thing, he might change his advice - or explain why A really is the right thing, and then the intern learns either way. – HorusKol Nov 13 '17 at 23:38
  • There are problems that can be solved in a simple, time consuming way A, or in a difficult but faster way B. And A would be the right approach for a beginner, while B is what an experienced person would do. – gnasher729 Nov 13 '17 at 23:52
  • "You're not expected to know much of anything. Otherwise you'd be the Manager". No, he'd be Guy. ;) – Nolo Problemo Nov 14 '17 at 0:27

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