How to effectively disagree

 In Coaching

How to effectively disagree


How can you disagree effectively?

It is often scary for people to disagree with others, especially at work. They fear starting a dispute or losing their good relationship with their boss.

However, even the most successful organisations and teams often disagree on ideas, goals, strategies and how to implement them.

Few people understand how important it can be to voice your opinions. We have some tips to help you disagree with your bosses, coworkers, and colleagues effectively.

Three Effective Ways to Disagree

Humans are not perfect. Research has shown that the best teams embrace differences as strengths. There are both healthy and unhealthy ways you can make your case.

1. You can disagree, but you should still allow space for learning more

When to use it

What to say: “If you understood me correctly, I disagree …”” How it works: If your disagreement is written in a way that allows the other person to clarify or provide more information, there will be room for them to do so. You may not have understood the situation clearly or have missed a key step or fact. You may disagree with the information you have now but are open to learning more.

When we talk and listen, we all make assumptions. Before you dismiss their ideas with a rejection, admit that you might be able to reach an agreement through further discussion.

2. Be specific about your disagreement

When to use it

It works because you disagree with the person instead of disagreeing with them. It’s easy for your teammate (especially in the heat) to take your disagreement personally if you don’t give specifics. Be specific in your responses so that they understand you are addressing a problem and not you as a person.

3. Start by expressing your viewpoint

When to use it

What to say: “Here is why I see it differently …”” Why it works: You are acknowledging the intelligence of your coworkers. Your solution or perspective may seem obvious to you but it does not have to be obvious to your teammates. They don’t sit in the same place as you or know everything you do.

You can start by explaining why you disagree. This will expose your assumptions and motives for them to think about. They can then decide whether or not they agree with you.

What is the importance of good disagreement?

Because we all make mistakes from time to time, disagreement is important. The whole organisation will be at risk if no one agrees with us when we’re wrong. Trust is the foundation of high-performing teams. It fuels trust and motivates them by being trusted. How we deal with disagreement can either create trust or destroy it.

All of us have experienced disagreements that erode trust. Bad disagreements can look like passive resistance foot-dragging or angry outbursts, manipulations, domination, personal attacks, or even passive resistance foot-dragging. These behavior patterns can lead to low morale and communication barriers.

Healthy teams don’t have any one fired or penalised for disagreeing, everyone is included in the process, and no one is cut down. Ironically, teams that have good disagreement feel more secure than they do when there is less. It is okay to disagree, even passionately, with team members and their contributions are valued by the group.

Here are some ways to disagree with grace

1. Decide where you’d like to go.

We suggest that the first step is to decide if it is worth having. Eg Talking to your spouse about whether you are going to accept a job that requires the family to relocate is a good idea.

2. Ask for information.

Simply saying that you are familiar with a difficult topic and asking them if they would prefer to avoid it is enough to show that you are aware of their viewpoint and make potentially volatile territory more secure.

3. It should be neutral

It is important to keep the conversation neutral from the beginning. We suggest that you ask questions to show that you understand the situation. However, you shouldn’t be boastful if you are asking questions. Don’t ask questions so tentatively that you invite condescension.

4. Begin the conversation by understanding

This helps you to put the edges around the problem, and focuses your attention on the problem. We don’t argue before we start to argue.

5. Find the place you are comfortable.

It is important to have productive conversations that build understanding and learn from each other, not cause them to be a distraction. This means there are no winners or losers. To be constructive, you must be curious and try to understand. This is done by looking for areas of agreement, rather than disagreement.

6. Talk less. Allow the other person to respond

It’s dialogue. Dialogue is when you respond to each other, point by point. It’s different from diatribe.

Instead of rambling on, take a deep breath and breathe in after each sentence. It is important to allow your conversation partner to respond, and to let emotions settle. This helps the other person feel heard.

7. Use the word “but” sparingly

In conversation, the word “but” can be used as a subtraction sign. It erases the previous sentence. It is better to use it than to respond with “and simultaneously” or ask a question that begins with “how” and “what”.

8. Tell stories

It is not difficult. It is important to be mindful of what you are saying and how you phrase them before you let the words fall out of your mouth.

9. Refuse to be provocative

The best argument doesn’t always have to be the one that you can hashtag and make viral on the internet. These are just punches. Communication in this way can be very costly for us emotionally. Take the time to reduce the emotional burden of the conversation and disarm it when possible. It is often as simple as your word choice or the tone of voice.


If you are going to a meeting where there is likely to be disagreement, you can prepare by thinking of reasons others might doubt your view. You can come up with rational arguments to oppose the views. The more preparation you put in the less emotional response you will incur enabling you to be better focused and more effective.

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