When you land a great job, you go into it hoping to get along with your boss. In a perfect world, your leader and you would share the same beliefs and values, creating a happy bubble of agreement. However, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you find yourself working for someone who has a different outlook on the world than you do. So, how do you follow a leader with different beliefs than your own?

Here are some tips that will help you interact with and follow your leader or boss, even when they have different opinions than you. 

Differences are Okay

Everyone is different. It’s our differences that create variety in the world. If everyone had the same opinions, things would never change for the better. Recognizing that your boss has a different opinion than you is the first step. Then you need to get to a place where you accept those differences. When it comes down to it, you don’t have to agree politically, philosophically, or socially to work well together. 

Give a Little Respect

Even if you disagree with their values and beliefs, you should always show respect, not just as an employee but as a human being. Showing respect to your workplace superiors and co-workers should be a non-issue. This doesn’t mean you have to agree, but respect is essential.

Remember: They are just another human being who is looking at the world through their lens. They have their own life experiences that have led them to the beliefs, opinions, and values they have. They believe their ideology is correct, just like you believe yours is. Try asking questions to better understand their viewpoint and you may start to understand it a little better, even if you still disagree. 

Give Them the Benefit of the Doubt

It’s never a good idea to assume the worst about someone. Typically, people aren’t trying to be offensive and most of the time they have their own reasons for thinking the way they do. Instead of jumping to conclusions about why they have certain beliefs or ideologies, give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Open the Communication

When people’s viewpoints are completely opposite, there may be a time that discussions arise that could be offensive or divisive. If that happens with your team lead or boss, try requesting a meeting and have an open, honest discussion about the issues you’re having. Once again, give them the benefit of the doubt – they likely didn’t mean to offend you. Share your experiences and why you would prefer those discussions not happen at work. Regardless of the outcome of the meeting, approach the results with respect.

Focus on the Important Stuff

Differences of opinions can happen. The important thing is being able to move past that and focusing on what’s important in your position. You’re in a work environment and you should focus on making it a happy, safe space for you and others to work together. When you’re looking for a job or evaluating your current position, consider these characteristics in your boss:

  • They listen and try to understand your point of view, rather than simply responding. 
  • They see and respect you as an individual and treat you like a human being, even if they disagree with your ideologies. 
  • They create an enjoyable work environment, where people feel comfortable and motivated to work rather than fearful of consequences. 
  • They encourage and inspire you – a good boss should want to see you be the best you can be in your position. 
  • They want you to grow – a good boss should help you grow and cultivate your talents, rather than stifling you. 

Be Willing to Walk

You may disagree with your boss, but if they exhibit the characteristics we talked about, you can still have a positive experience at work. The trick is knowing when your employer doesn’t have these characteristics and when you need to start searching for other opportunities. 

Disagreements aside, you should never feel less-than-human or like you’re not being heard. If you’re working in fear every day or dreading going to work because of the environment, be willing to recognize that and move on. 

Disagreements happen, but you can still have a productive work environment. Remember to respect your employer as the one who is paying you to do a job. Be honest and open about times you are offended and look at the characteristics of your boss. Are they making you feel like a valued member of the team? If not, be willing to move on. Regardless of the disagreements about beliefs, your work environment can still be a happy, safe space for you and your co-workers. 

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