Compliment her, and then state your concern. Tory Johnson, author of Take This Book to Work, recommends saying, “Your opinion matters a great deal to me, and I’ve noticed that you have been very quiet lately. We haven’t spoken like we usually do. Is anything going on?”
Dig deeper. Some people have trouble being direct. If you sense that she isn’t being completely honest, rephrase the question more directly. Johnson suggests saying, “Our professional relationship is very important to me, and I would appreciate it if you would be candid in telling me if I can improve upon anything.” Show your willingness to listen by asking for constructive feedback.
End the conversation with, “If I can do anything, please let me know. You should know by now that you can always be straight with me, and that having an honest relationship with you means a great deal to me.” That opens the door for her to talk honestly with you in the future.
Set up a meeting, if the other person is your boss. That way, you won’t take her by surprise. Say, “I’d like to set up a time when we can establish that everything is on track.” In the meeting, ask, “Is my work satisfactory, or should I be doing something differently?” By being proactive, you’re in a better position to handle any criticism or make any changes.
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