How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable

The idea is stated and you hate it.  Now what do you do?  Do you handle it differently if you are the boss, coworker or subordinate?

The problem with voicing thoughts about something you disagree with is in the way you state them.  Most people state their thoughts as a judgment on what the other person said which just causes the other person to dig their heels in further and fight you.

And yes, you do need to handle it slightly different if you are the boss, coworker or subordinate.  Why? Because you have different responsibilities and your opinion weighs differently in each of those scenarios.  If you are the boss, you need to guide and nurture those underneath you, not crush them.  If you are a peer, you need to establish mutual respect and if you are a subordinate you need to show respect for others while still voicing your thoughts.  As the subordinate you also need to realize that you may not be privileged to information that suddenly makes this idea all make sense.

Having said all that you still need to be able to voice your thoughts so they are heard and so that all information is brought forward for discussion.

  1. You need to make sure you state the outcome desired-make sure you understand the objective trying to be reached.
  2. Ask clarifying questions if you don’t have all the information.
  3. State what is in conflict for you or why the idea may not work.  State this without any judgment.
  4. Invite discussion about other ways to reach the objective.

A healthy team does have conflict.  It is about getting all the information out on the table in order to make the best decisions.  So don’t shrink back!  If an idea is stated that you don’t agree with, always ask yourself, “If the outcome of this is bad, will I be willing to own it?”  If the answer is no, then you owe it to the team and yourself to speak up.  The last thing you want is to wait until it doesn’t work and then say, “I didn’t think it would work.”

As the leading Outcome Strategist, Anne Warfield shows people how to say the right thing at the right time every time.  The revolutionary Outcome Focus® Approach shows how to build a candid corporate culture of communication that allows you to lead, present and negotiate transformationally rather than transactionally. When applying Outcome Thinking® our client’s results include sales cycles reducing by 75%, turnover reducing by 30%, silos evaporating, and a 25% savings of time by executives.  Find out how you can maximize your corporate culture for greater productivity and results!  Contact us at 888-imp-9421, visit,  or email