Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

This might seem like an odd question to pose, but I am frustrated and not sure what to do. Our lead advisor is generally a great guy, very kind and fun. In a group setting he is gregarious and upbeat and always goes out of his way to make all of us feel special and appreciated.

But one-to-one it is a different story. It’s almost as if he uses all of his energy for the group settings and then you get him in his office alone and rather than engage, he reads his emails or notes on his desk and once – true story – he fell asleep in his chair as I was speaking to him.

My role is administrative in nature and I am dependent on getting direction from him and doing what he needs. I always walk out feeling like I am going to miss something or that he really doesn’t care about me (or any of us). He runs the firm and is my boss so please don’t tell me I need to confront him. I am wondering whether there is a way for me to do something differently that would in turn create a new response from him.

A.V.

Dear A.V.,

I appreciate that you are being self-reflective and asking “what can I do to shift the behavior of someone else?” It is human nature to say someone else is the problem when often times we are contributing to someone’s bad behavior in one way or another – either by reacting to it, or ignoring it or being unwilling to deal with it at all.

I also agree that confrontation with your lead advisor is not prudent. But addressing something, questioning it or being intellectually curious is not always confrontational. There are ways to bring up an issue that don’t put the other person on the defensive and don’t damage the relationship.