How to (Nicely) Disagree at Work
But truthfully, disagreement is key to new, better ideas being born—and by bringing unique thoughts or concerns to the table, you prove that you’re adding valuable input to the team.
So, how do you disagree with your co-workers without sounding like a jerk? Liane Davey suggests several great ideas in her HBR article “Conflict Strategies for Nice People,” but one of my favorite tips involved a single word change:
Use ‘and,’ not ‘but.’ When you need to disagree with someone, express your contrary opinion as an ‘and.’ It’s not necessary for someone else to be wrong for you to be right. When you are surprised to hear something a teammate has said, don’t try to trump it, just add your reality. ‘You think we need to leave room in the budget for a customer event, and I’m concerned that we need that money for employee training. What are our options?’ This will engage your teammates in problem solving, which is inherently collaborative instead of combative.
Read some of her other helpful strategies, then think about what conflict it may be time for you to address at work today (and how you can do it right).
Photo of tug of war courtesy of Shutterstock.
About The Author
As an Editor at The Daily Muse, Erin has an unhealthy adoration of taking sentences and making them shine. In her search to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, Erin journeyed to the Galapagos to try her hand at environmental filmmaking, jetted to Copenhagen to study Urban Design, and spent hours in the kitchen contemplating quitting it all for culinary school. Follow her continued adventures at eringreenawald.com or on Twitter @erinaceously.