Are you scared to disagree? (video transcript)

Many people tell me they really don’t agree with things their teammates are saying, but they don’t know how to disagree. Gently. These are nice people, polite people, and they don’t want to be combative. But if the conflict doesn’t get expressed, it can just cause frustration and resentment.

Here are the right words to say when you disagree.

The best tip of all is to express your contrary opinion as an and. Remember the other person doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right. I hear that you want room in the budget for an event and I’m concerned we need that money for employee training. What are our options?

Another tactic is to use hypotheticals. If you don’t feel comfortable being assertive, try asking your teammate to imagine a different scenario. I hear your concern that we don’t have the right sales people to pull this off. If we could get the right people, what could the campaign look like?

You can also talk about the impact of actions. Rather than disagreeing with the plan, help your teammate think through the consequences by asking good open-ended questions about the impact. Okay, we’re contemplating launching this product to only our U.S. customers. How’s that going to land with our two biggest customers in Latin America?

Or ask about the underlying issue. If you disagree with a proposed action, start the discussion by trying to understand the rationale. If you understand the reason for the action, you might be able to find another way to accomplish the same goal. Say something like, I’m surprised you suggested a press release. What’s your goal in doing that?

Having conflict and presenting a point of view is critical. Diversity of thinking on a team is the source of innovation and growth. If you find yourself shying away from conflict, use one of these techniques to make it a little easier. Those are the right words to say to disagree nicely.

More on this

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Disagree with your boss without getting fired

The Problem with Agreeing to Disagree