Conflict. Confrontation. Issues. Nobody wants to deal with any of these things in the office. But what if you need your boss to be bold? Or what if you find yourself in the midst of an argument at work?

The last thing you want is a cowardice supervisor or an embarrassing reaction. LinkedIn Influencers have seen it all. And this week several weighed in on signs the boss lacks courage and how to keep your composure in the midst of an office maelstrom. Here’s what two of them had to say.

Rob Wyse, Managing Director at Capital Content

You might not love your boss, but is she a coward? Does he shirk off the tough parts of management because, well, they are just too hard to face? How can you know if your boss is a coward? Wyse offers some insight in his post Six Signs Your Boss is a Coward.

Among them:

He has others fire his direct reports. This is probably the most cowardly act of the cowardly boss,” wrote Wyse. “If your boss does this, he likes having the authority of his position, but not the responsibility.”

She will make a decision in private, then fail to protect her people in public if it does not work. This is the classic behavior of someone who lacks confidence and is afraid of making mistakes,” wrote Wyse. “And, she is someone you cannot trust.”

He slips in a negative comment about one of your colleagues in every conversation. You may think he’s complimenting you by confiding in you. But you can bet he does the same when speaking about you,” Wyse wrote.

She will not have face to face meetings to resolve conflicts. This behaviour goes hand in hand with delivering different messages to each person,” Wyse wrote. “If she gets everyone in the same room to resolve differences, or expose and deal with problems, she can’t divide and conquer. And she has blown her cover.”

“I have worked directly with, and observed, hundreds [of] people who are bosses. The best are genuine, expose their own weaknesses, deal with controversy directly, and do not sweep issues under the rug so they become larger problems,” wrote Wyse. “The worst are cowards and the way they go about trying to hide their insecurities have just the opposite effect.”

Brian Ferreira, executive partner at Gartner

“No person is ever safe from heated work debates,” wrote Ferriera in his post Staying Calm During Work Arguments. “Before you know what happened a simple debate has escalated out of control.”

But there are ways you can stay calm and keep your composure — and stay in control of the situation. Among the seven tips Ferreira offered:

Acknowledge the reality and know what you’re talking about… The person you are facing in a heated debate may not have the full context of the situation. Listen for the areas where the person may have the wrong view or missing information and appropriately point out that they don’t have the full context,” he wrote. “Help them fill the missing puzzle pieces. Make sure you are not the person using faulty information.”

“It’s business, not personal. Most heated debates are about conflicting business views and people feeling their views aren’t being heard,” wrote Ferreira. “Yes, some people do have dominant approaches and bully their way through an argument, but you need to stand your ground and always keep in mind that the debate is about business, not about you. Keeping this in mind will help you to not trigger personal emotions.”

“Learn when to fold — even if you’re right. Consciously think how far you’re willing to let the debate go,” suggested Ferreira. “If it continues to escalate and it becomes clear that there is no resolution at all and the emotions are at an immature level with name calling, accusations and personal attacks, walk away.”

Have you dealt with a cowardly boss or a work debate that’s gone out of hand? How did you cope? What other advice would you offer? To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.