Sooner or later it’s going to happen. Someone’s going to say something you disagree with. But, what do you do when it’s someone more powerful than you such as your boss? Do you speak up? Or, ignore your own opinion and just do what they ask? If you’d feel afraid, you wouldn’t be alone. It can be unnerving having to speak up because you immediately wonder, “What if they don’t like me anymore?” Or, “Will they get angry at me and embarrass me?” These feelings come from your innate human desire to want to protect yourself, which is why we tend to shy away from disagreements. And though you don’t want conflict, you don’t want your opinions ignored either. The good news is, there is a way to disagree with your superior without feeling “threatening” them or making yourself feel vulnerable.
The Risk: First, let’s be realistic about the risk. Most people have an inflated fear about what will actually happen when they speak up. Will the person be a little surprised? Yes, but you don’t have to worry about making a life long enemy.
Waiting It Out: After you realize the sky won’t fall if you decide to speak up, it’s time to determine whether you should wait. Waiting doesn’t mean procrastinating. It means giving yourself time to get all the facts and think things through. If you’re in front a group of people, you may decide to wait to until you’re alone as well.
Shared Goals: When you do decide to say something, let him or her know that both of you have the same goal in mind. Follow it up with that being the reason why you thought you should mention “XYZ” to point of view to them.
Permission to Disagree: Before you disagree, ask for permission to do so. This prepares them for a disagreement without making it feel threatening. Plus, asking them still gives them a feeling of power.
Don’t be Judgmental: As you’re voicing your opinion, don’t say things that sound like an attack on them such as “hasty”, “crazy”, “foolish” or “bad idea”.
Acknowledge Their Authority: Make it known that you respect or acknowledge their authority. Do it, however, without backing down from your point of view.
The next time you’re confronted with a situation you disagree with don’t shy away from speaking up. Being brave enough to disagree with your superior is good for you. If you implement these steps when you’re ready to voice a disagreement, you’ll be able to respect them and yourself.