How To (Respectfully) Disagree With Your Boss


Thanks to Maryland Gov for the image

We’ve all been there. When your boss makes a decision that you know is a bad idea. One of the hardest things to do is speak up and explain why it’s a mistake. However, if you can summon the courage and present a good argument, it’s a great skill to have. Disagreeing with your boss will create respect between the two of you. It will reward you later down the line. Just learn to do it correctly or it could all end badly.

The same is true when your boss asks you to do something and you just want to scream ‘No!’ Sometimes you can be overwhelmed with work already. Perhaps you just know it’s not in the best interests of the company. Again, speaking up is the right thing to do. However, be careful how you broach the subject and do it in a respectful manner. Communication and confidence are prized skills in employees. Learn to execute them well.

Be selective

There is one very simple rule when disagreeing with your boss. That is to pick your time correctly. Disagree with everything they say and it becomes irritating and petty. Choose your battles carefully. Let the small things fly and only oppose the decisions you feel strongly about. Bosses want to lead. Don’t go to them with every little problem or worry.

Don’t disagree in front of others

If it is an environment where ideas are being shared, then it’s okay to disagree. However, keep your thoughts to yourself in important strategy meetings. There are clearly defined roles in business and you shouldn’t over-step. Ask your boss for a meeting and sit down in their office to discuss your objections. Never outline objections and disagreements in a group email. This is highly inappropriate.

Rehearse your argument

Your boss will respect a well communicated argument. Once you’ve set a meeting, it gives you time to figure out the best wording for your reasons. If you speak up too quickly during a meeting or reply to an email in haste, you won’t always articulate well. If your boss is skipping an IT audit, but you know the client needs one, crunch the numbers. Present the facts and figures and rehearse the argument. Your boss will respect a well reasoned disagreement, but only if you can explain in full why.

Stay positive and offer an alternative

There’s nothing worse than disagreeing with your boss without offering an alternative. When you outline your position, be honest and stay positive. Explain why you think there is another option to be considered. Explain why this option is better for the company and the client.

How to say ‘no’

It’s all too easy to say ‘yes’ to everything that your boss throws your way. You want to impress them and show them that you can handle everything. However, sometimes you can be laden with too much work. In this case, it is better to say no than failing to deliver. Respectfully explain that you appreciate the responsibility and thank them. Then go on to explain that you don’t want to deliver a poor service and offer an alternative.

Speaking up and disagreeing with your boss is an important skill to learn. It will help you manage your workload better. It will also help you develop an environment of trust. Do it right and your boss will learn to respect your opinion. They may begin to come to you for advice. Saying ‘no’ can create a much better working relationship.

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