How to Respectfully Disagree With Your Boss

Disagreeing With Your Boss

Have I considered this issue from every perspective?

Every workplace holds a myriad of personalities and work styles, so it’s not implausible to find yourself disagreeing with your employer from time to time.

Your distain can run the gamut of opposing a new plan to contesting a written warning you received, but no matter the issue, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach the situation. If you take certain things into consideration, you can turn the uncomfortable conversation into a constructive one.

Before you speak up, ask yourself these questions.

Have I considered this issue from every perspective?

Before verbalizing your thoughts, take the time to put yourself in the shoes of others that will also be impacted. If your qualm is about an assignment or unrealistic expectations set upon your team, consider how others may feel too. Most importantly, try to understand why your boss has asked for this in the first place. While you still may not agree it’s in the best interest of the company or employee morale, your boss might show some appreciation if you treat his or her concerns as reasonable ones.

Is this the right time and place?

You’ll want to make sure you address the challenges you’re facing privately and in-person. Avoid typing your frustrations in an email, as that is not the most effective way to get your message across. When you set up your meeting, ensure you have the adequate time and space needed; a time and place where you don’t expect any interruptions.

How can I turn this around into a positive and productive conversation?

Hopefully when your boss comes to you with concerns about your choices or work performance, he or she makes sure to let you know that aside from needing improvement in a particular area, you are doing a great job. Return the favor by ensuring your disagreement is delivered in a positive light. Avoid being accusatory or using negative vocabulary. Instead of merely batting down your boss’ ideas, be sure to prepare your own suggestions for solutions as a possible replacement strategy.

Don’t be discouraged if your boss doesn’t go for your suggestions. If you’ve handled yourself professionally and respectfully, you will close that meeting having left your mark. Remember that speaking up can actually improve your relationship with your boss and help your career.


Do you want to improve the relationship with your boss? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and manage up, across and down more effectively.


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