Q: My boss is incredibly shortsighted. He just thinks about the fastest way to make himself look good. He doesn't see that, because he never...

Share story

Q: My boss is incredibly shortsighted. He just thinks about the fastest way to make himself look good. He doesn’t see that, because he never thinks about what anyone else needs, no one wants to help him. What is wrong with him?

A: What is “wrong” with your boss is that he is at a lower level of emotional development than you are.

Believe it or not, adult maturity has nothing to do with age. Some people grow old, but not up.

People who study adult development have created different models that describe what it means to grow up. I’ve summarized some of the qualities that are common in immature adults and common in mature adults.

Mature adults

1. Can tolerate feeling two different ways about the same issue.

2. Think about long-term consequences.

3. Have the ability to control immediate impulses.

4. Have empathy for others.

5. See that others need to win for one’s self to win.

6. Look at the big picture, not just the immediate problem.

Immature adults

1. Can feel only one way about an issue.

2. Think in terms of black and white, not gray.

3. Act out thoughts and feelings immediately.

4. Only think about the short term.

5. Can only see their point of view.

6. Believe they can win without benefiting others.

People who are less mature are not less smart, they are simply less developed in their ability to think and feel than wiser adults. When you communicate with someone in your workplace who is “younger” than you, in this sense, they will not understand you.

If you tell your boss that he needs to think about others, he’ll just think you are like him and manipulating him for your own gain. He actually cannot understand what you are saying about teamwork because true teamwork doesn’t exist in his model of the world.

People who are immature literally cannot see that other, more advanced ways of looking at the world exist. Thus, you cannot just speak the way you would to another, more mature colleague.

Instead, make sure you frame requests to “younger” bosses or co-workers focusing on what they have to immediately gain.

Persuasive and articulate reasoning will not convince your boss or others to grow up and see the big picture. “Younger” people in your workplace will keep creating predictable problems for themselves. When these problems become mature enough, they may realize that lasting success only comes when you see that there is an “us” in “me.”

The last word(s)

Q: I have a young assistant who is constantly text-messaging his friends. How do I get him to stop?

A: Ask him what he enjoys more, a job or constant communication with friends.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net

; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube