Fighting Fire with Water-- Your Difficult-Boss Options 174 During the actual discussions or negotiations, keep your cool. You're dealing with a difficult boss here, so be alert to any attempts to manipulate your emotions. Enter into the negotiations with a positive attitude and express that openly. Saying something like: "I'm sure we can work this out between us if we work at it, and I think it's worth it." Try to keep the ball in the boss's court if you can. Ask the boss for potential solutions, and press a little bit. Also, try to listen as much as possible to determine what the boss needs to make a solution work. Use "we" as much as possible. Use "I" as sparingly as possible. If you come to a successful resolution, decide whether you need something in writing or not. Often it depends on the issue. Is it possible this will become a legal issue or a company policy? Then you politely request something in writing. Or, as an option (this often works better), draft a brief memo outlining the agreement made and ask your boss to sign it. Keep in mind that some people are hesitant to commit anything to paper. Getting a written commitment isn't always possible with a difficult boss. The challenge of working it out is that it takes two. You may be willing, but your boss, being difficult, may not be willing. Still, it's an almost mandatory starting point when dealing with a difficult boss. If it doesn't work, at least you tried, and you will be able to prove you tried. From the Manager's Desk