8 Ball


The definition of an 8 ball is “being stuck in a hard, unfavorable or uncomfortable position.”  During our careers, most people feel at one point or another that they are in a difficult position either with their boss, coworkers, clients, or even their subordinates.  By not communicating effectively, the situation can escalate and be a “much bigger deal” than it originally set out to be.

Obviously you can’t always avoid these scenarios but it best to try to minimize the impact.  As an example, suppose you and your supervisor are discussing your annual review.  He brings up issues that may have been accurate in the past but you feel you have made great strides in those areas i.e. meeting quotas, better management of staff, etc.  How do you respond?  It may be advantageous to suggest scheduling a follow up meeting so that would allow you to be able to think over what he said.

In some cases, your supervisor may not be open to that idea so you need to respond accordingly.  It is important that you are not being defensive so ask him to cite specific examples and calmly discuss your viewpoint.  It may be that some aspects he mentions are indeed accurate and you did not think about it that way.  If you strongly feel that what he is saying is totally wrong politely say “I feel that is not accurate and let me explain why.”  Keep your response as positive as possible and be careful of your body language.  You may be very upset and/or angry but you can’t show it!

If it is in a meeting with others and you feel that you are being attacked, try to figure out what the motive is behind his/their words.  Sometimes it really does not have anything to do with you so if you blurt out, swear, etc. it will only reflect badly on you.  Explain that you need clarification and keep asking questions until you have a better understanding (wrong or right) about what he/they are saying.  In general, people don’t listen well so there may be a lack of understanding more on their end.  Make sure your communications are clear and detailed enough (without being painfully long and boring) so that everyone is now on the same page.

If the situation gets worse and it is not likely it will get better, suggest one more time to have a follow up meeting another day.  If nothing else, follow up with an email stating your position and why you disagree.  Most people do not like confrontation so they will avoid it at all costs.  Email works well because it takes the emotion (in most cases) out of the equation and it sticks to the words.  Before writing it, do take time to reflect on what happened, why you feel the way you do, are you bringing in past experiences into the mix, and/or what might be the motives of the person(s) saying this.  Do copy this person’s boss and human resources if necessary but try to save that only for dire circumstances.