How Do You Disagree with Your Boss – And Live to Tell About it

With most managers, it will not be the end of the world or your job if you disagree with the boss.  Most managers, who are confident in their ability, welcome a differing point of view, ideas and often encourage people to speak their mind.  Disagreements often end in new and better ideas, solutions to a problem and a solid relationship with your manager and your customers.

It does help if the organization fosters different opinions. In these types of organizations, they want to take advantage of their employee’s talents, experience and skills to enhance not only the organization, but the business relationship with their customers.

Believe it or not, managers are human, too.  It may be hard to believe at times, but you need to determine what their leadership style is to be able to understand how much disagreement will be tolerated and how much will be appreciated.

How you approach a disagreement with your boss will determine whether you are seen as an asset or a problem.  A situation that is approached with respect versus aggressiveness will always win out in the end.   If you are able to bring facts versus conjecture, you’ll be more likely to be successful in your argument.  You’ll need to do some work and research ahead of time to support your opinion.  Your boss is not often going to reverse themselves without facts and pertinent data that supports your plan.

There will come a time during your conversation when you’ll know it is time to give up your point of view and you can go no further.  At that time, it is best if you tell your boss that while you might disagree, you’ll implement whatever they have decided and do the best to make it a success.

Here are a few tips that employees have done to make a successful disagreement with their boss.

  1. They had a great relationship first, thus when there was a disagreement, they started from a good place from the beginning.
  2. The boss already had some faith in the employee because they had a track-record of delivering results, which makes the boss look good.
  3. The employee was committed to the company and not just their personal agenda.  The history of suggestions tended to be for the betterment of everyone versus just their particular job or department.
  4. The employee had a history of speaking out for the good of the company.  They didn’t disagree about everything, but only on the occasions they felt strongly about.
  5. The employee doesn’t play games.  They are straight and to the point.
  6. Name calling and sarcasm has no place when you are trying to speak-out in disagreement.  Making the boss look like an idiot is not a good idea for your long-term prospects of growth, learning and success.
  7. No matter how often they might disagree with the boss, they seek this person out as a mentor so they can learn and spend time talking about issues and approaches to other business situations.
  8. Their relationships with others and ethics in business were solid.  Would you get behind someone who you couldn’t trust or unsure of reprisals if things don’t go their way?
  9. The employee was able to communicate clearly, concisely and rationally to make their case understood.  The employee was able to present the data and facts of the plan versus speaking in terms of “I think” or “I feel.”  They were able to demonstrate they did their homework on the subject.
  10. Not a good idea to go around the boss to plead your case to their boss.  See the point above again about not making your manager look like an idiot.  They should never be blind-sided by your actions or learning about your point of view for the first time from their boss.

Most bosses want this type of relationship with their employees.  If you have prepared yourself using some of these tips and the day comes when you need to disagree with the boss, you’ll be ready and will build a strong effective relationship with your boss.

Do you have any tips to add?  Let me hear about them in the comment section.

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