In the modern workplace, job descriptions are as much a nuisance as a component of job performance. Once a type or function is codified in specific, specific ways, tasks become black and white, details have begun to loom over underpinnings of human connections, and necessary conversations and discourse between people have turned to questions of truth.
We have become a culture who don’t like to take risks and need to know whether others approve. If a person misquotes or mispronounces the words of another person, it’s an example of immaturity. If a person disagrees with the apparent conclusions of another person, that is exhibiting judgment. But if a person argues with someone on the contrary, that is an act of respect. If a person has strong opinions but then shares those opinions with you, you have built community. If you believe in a position but can’t understand the other person’s views, you are displaying an attitude of superiority. And if you disagree with a colleague’s position but allow their ideas to go unfiltered and unquestioned, that is dismissive.
Too many bosses resist allowing employees to learn new things. A few years ago, a person told me that a boss refused to acknowledge a project completed because he or she thought it was impossible and the mistake would require an apology. That same person also said a superior would give praise if one of their subordinates forgot something but refused to give such praise when employees forgot something that was important to the boss.
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Several years ago, I told a person I was frustrated when he/she told me that someone needed a nap. The response was, “But my boss says it’s OK.” My immediate response was, “You have such poor judgment, of course it’s OK.” Later, this person told me that he felt I had judged him and his management style. I suggested that, if he thought his behavior was okay, he should at least let the boss know that. I said I believed he had a higher code of ethics than I did and would he think I was hypocritical for not letting him nap?
Those were the more emotionally off-the-wall examples. I will also regularly see leaders display a reluctance to accept the fact that there is no right or wrong and that just because it’s easier to do so is no reason to do so. But those behaviors cause employee resentment and prompt employees to leave the organization.
Employee experiences with bosses who don’t work in tandem with employees on a day-to-day basis are often filled with dissatisfaction and ultimately doubt.
One person told me that a boss and employee clashed and in the course of the conflict, the person broke a desk lamp. His boss told him he was an idiot and refused to reprimand him. Eventually, the employee received his in-demand bonus, but no one said anything about the lamp.
Another person recounted a boss who would minimize and defeat others to display his dominance. When all other employees were addressed with an attitude of humor and genuine concern, the boss was “meek and retiring,” whispering and addressing employees with a surly tone. Finally, a well-known business leader retorted that if he didn’t like what someone had said, he was an idiot.
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It is important to take risks in the workplace and learn to work well with others. Many bosses can’t bring themselves to work with people who are not on a personal level with them. That hinders them from promoting and retaining employees.
Therefore, a better strategy is to remind people that if something is a good idea and if you can work things out, then do it. If you can’t, the manager must take the high road and let your colleague know that the presence of the thing in question is unnecessary.
This article originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report