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It’s an art to agree to disagree with your boss

It’s IPL season and India is in the grip of cricket fever. Look at any news site or social media platform and it is replete with IPL team news. Cricket is a team game, to win everyone needs to work closely. Matches are won or lost on split-second decisions taken on the field. If you read any news on what happens in the dressing room, often we get to know about difference of opinion between the captain and the players or the coach. So what if you are a player and differ with the call the captain wants to take, what will you do? 

If you happen to be on the other end of the table, here’s how you can improve situations as a boss: How to motivate your team when times are tough [Infographic]

Coming to our corporate lives, if you are discussing a new business idea with your boss, and he suggests a plan of action you know is bound to fail. Or it’s a client request and as always your boss commits an unreasonable timeline. You want to disagree, but he is pretty high up in the corporate ladder. Putting your point across to someone more powerful than you in any arena can often pose a challenge.

In most companies with a top-down structure, the boss’s word is final and if you happen to have a different point of view, then you are in trouble. You’re left with no option but to become too assertive or extra-submissive, to avoid conflict. Consequently, you may either risk upsetting the dynamics with your boss or come across as an unenthusiastic person, reluctant to push boundaries. Both ways, it becomes a catch-22 situation. However, in the long run, you need to learn to master the art to agree to disagree without being rude.

On a similar note, here are some ways you can handle a difficult coworker: How to overcome a difficult coworker and be victorious at work

Most of us are wired to avoid conflict, by agreeing with the boss, sometimes jeopardizing business interests in the process. Here is a quick list of what you should and what to avoid while agreeing to disagree with your senior:

Things to do:

  • Be polite: If the tone of the meeting is shifting from conversation to disagreement, ensure you remain polite. Let the other person know you think differently and would like to express your opinion.
  • Be assertive: Alternate between politeness and assertiveness depending on the listener’s mood. Understand the other person’s perspective to get the bigger picture.
  • Be clear: Reiterating your point will help retain the focus and convey your message effectively.
  • Be calm: Speak slowly and audibly, in a friendly, even tone, for a fruitful conversation.
  • Be empathetic: Show that you’re open to dialogue and change. It not only prevents animosity, but also makes way for a mutually acceptable solution.

Learn more on how to improve your workplace communication skills here: Weaving a communication web!

Things to avoid:

  • Judgmental language: Avoid the use of words such as ‘hasty’ or ‘wrong’ that can upset or aggravate the person in front of you.
  • Presume the worst: Don’t presume the worst just because you have a different opinion. This will ensure the dramatic edge remains out of the discussion.
  • Close off discussion: Just like you don’t believe your boss’s words is the rule of law, neither is yours. Stay open to dialogue.

While no one actively wants to disagree with their bosses, a constructive discussion is always in the benefit of the team and the business. So, next time when you differ from your boss, take a pause, present your views, but understand that the final decision may have many influencers. It could be that he is privy to information you may not be to and he is more experienced than you.

However, if you think you have a different perspective that should be considered, go ahead and raise your point. If done right, your point will not only reach your superiors, but also ensure that you build strong relationships at your workplace.

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