How to Disagree Politely with Your Boss | DCR Workforce Blog

How to Disagree Politely with Your Boss

Your boss opens their mouth, and apparently, what came out was so wrong that your jaw dropped. In the heat of the moment, you’re in disbelief and left wondering how your boss could be so far off base. But before you do the typical boss-bashing that any employee can potentially fall into, pause for a second to think about what just happened.

The best thing to do is reflect on the situation in an objective manner. Ask yourself if it was your boss or you that was in the wrong. And if you do choose to stand up to your boss, I highly suggest you evaluate your feelings about the matter first. Then, come up with a strategy on how to disagree politely.

As an employee, it’s easy to get paranoid about the situation. After all, you’re going up against someone who is above you in the work hierarchy and has authority over you. First of all, you need to figure out if this construct is even an issue. Then, make sure you’re not overreacting. For example, maybe what your boss said doesn’t apply to you, or the issue can be fixed in some minor way.

Choose your battles

If you are going to go head-to-head with your boss, pick your battles wisely. Try to only disagree with your boss when the problems are substantial. There is no need to argue over minor issues. And if this is a matter worth fighting for, the solution often requires more listening and thinking than talking.

The trick to dealing with this situation is realizing that you have to persuade your boss to understand the benefit of your point of view in a polite manner.

When you finally get a chance to encounter your boss privately to discuss the issue further, here are some suggestions as to how to plan out and execute the presentation of your viewpoint.

Tips on how to disagree politely with your boss

Brainstorming. Recall what your boss said, and try to figure out what led them to this thought or idea. Was it a concern, certain data, or feedback that made them think that what they were saying was accurate? Figuring out your boss’s point of view is an excellent way to determine how you’re going to present your thoughts and ideas. Ask questions to determine what their worries, goals, and strategies are. Try to find a point where you can build your suggestion off any of those thoughts. Now, you’re collaborating instead of making the situation confrontational.

Provide evidence. When you suggest an idea to your boss, you need to support it with facts. Any research, data, feedback, or other supplementary information can validate the point you are trying to make. You need to help your boss make a well-informed, educated decision. Don’t be rigid and think that your idea is the only way of doing things. Provide multiple options for an issue. Suggesting your idea as well as mentioning other options shows that you are interested in what’s best for the company.

Presentation. Your presentation should start off on a positive note to show respect for your boss’s authority. Summarize what they have said to the best of your understanding so you show that you are trying to see their point of view. Kindly mention how you have some recommendations that you think would work well with what your boss already had in mind about the subject in question. And finally, present your thoughts or ideas with supporting facts and wait for the response.

Know when to back off. If your boss doesn’t agree with your viewpoint, respect their decision. You had good intentions and were trying to be helpful. Don’t take the rejection too personally.

If you want to be taken seriously and have your opinion valued, you need to show your boss that you are worth listening to. After all, they have to manage you and an entire group of people, so there is often a lot of feedback to process. How well you strategize in presenting your point and how well you communicate your thoughts increases the chance of your boss understanding your point of view.

No matter how hard you try, sometimes, you and your boss just won’t have a meeting of the minds, and that’s to be expected. Remember, there may be underlying issues that you don’t know about that require consideration when making a decision. Try to be understanding. You should feel proud that you spoke up.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Preeta is a writer and a mom who writes about topics that strive to connect with readers in a real way.