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Background

I've been working for company X for 2.5 years and this is my first job. I started as a project manager assistant, became a project manager and I'm now making a transition to technical coordinator.

My manager started ~8 months ago. She already had experience in management from her previous job and she is replacing my former manager who is my N+2 now.

Company X is a small company (~30 employees) split into 2 locations (~20 where I am) and our team is comprised of 5 people.

I started my job transition with her as my previous role didn't suit me.

The issue

From the time my manager started, we've had some communication issues and differences in way of working.

Where I want to take things slow, she seems to want it fast. Sometimes (or often), I can reply in an inconvenient/rude/harsh way to her (through Slack or email). But I don't intentionally do so or realise that I'm rude.

I truly want to improve my communication with her but I don't know how...

I also know that I need to improve my communication about deadlines or re-planning things I missed.

Question

How can I improve my communication (or maybe hers) with her ?

I was thinking about telling her to send me a message when she thinks I answered in an inappropriate way

  • 3
    ...my former manager who is my N+2 now I'm not following what you are saying here. Is your former boss is now 2 levels above you? – DanK Jul 2 '18 at 12:18
  • Maybe some more examples (or specific examples) of problems. Your comment at the end sounds like your boss thinks you've been inappropriate but doesn't tell you? And more detail on the scheduling issues - are you hinting that things are behind and she isn't picking up on it? Are you assuming schedules are flexible when they aren't? – DaveG Jul 2 '18 at 13:18
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When you have a clash of personal styles with someone, it tends to get frustrating. When we are frustrated or angry, our writing style tends to reflect that. What I have found best for returning to a neutral style of communication is to write out frustrated, angry response fist in a form that cannot accidentally be sent. Use Notepad for instance. Once you have released the harmful emotions somewhat and have an idea of what points you calmly need to make, it is easier to write a response that is neutral. So then you write the actual response. Then you reread it before sending. If you were particularly upset, you might ask someone you trust to review it before you send if you are not sure that it is truly neutral in tone.

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I already experience this kind of situation from your side : I was harsh without (or barely) reasons with one of my teamate (boss or co-worker, here the problem will be the same IMO).

So, this is the way that I fixed it :

  • First, I have done properely apologyze to him, because there is no excuses for trashtalking someone in your team. As I said, you are a team, and have to work together in the same goal. you can't achieve proper cooperation if one keeps bashing on the other.
  • Second, each time I started to answer to him for any reason, this is what I have setup as self-control mechanism : each time, consider the answer you will give and read it like a mail someone in your team send to you for X reason. The goal is to put you in the head of the receiver.

I know that this answer is pretty basic, but in fact this solution worked pretty well for me and solved the problem : my mate have accept and understand my excuses, and I pay attention at the tone in every communication.

If it could help, this is others tricks to use when writting to someone :

  • When you don't agree, instead of bashing the idea like "It's dumb, it'll never works", put it in a question with an exemple (e.g : "Don't you think that this case X will break done the solution ?"). It sound really less agressive than the first.

  • Globally, be less assertive and more "inquisitive" if I can put it this way. Instead of saying something like if it was God's word, try to put it in a suggestion in an interrogative form. It's your N+1, don't forget it. She make the decision, and you follow it. You can alway share opinions, evaluations, etc, but never forget that it'll be your manager who will have the final word.

  • Be honest : if you really have problem with communication (I'm an ASD, so I can perfectly understand your situation), you can't solve it alway by yourself. Your last suggestion was not stupid at all =>

I was thinking about telling her to send me a message when she thinks I answered in an inappropriate way

I hope my experience could help you a bit.

Have a good day.

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This isn't a break-down in communications, it's a breakdown of basic process.

If you're dealing with projects, then you should really be talking about resources and time-management.

There needs to be a project plan outlining timelines for different phases (design, implmentation, text, deployment, etc.).

If you're not at a stage where you're using formal project management, you need to at least define and agree resources (how many people) and timescales (how long it'll take) for each work stream. Also make sure you both understand what the timescale refers to (the whole lot, or just develpment, for example).

Define a process, then communicate with each other in terms of that process.

  • Maybe I was too expansive on the context of my situation but I'm looking for an answer about the way I talk to her/what she asks me. We have issue with process but this is another subject that we are working on – Noxinounet Jul 2 '18 at 13:02

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