Disagreeing is hard. Whether it is saying no to an outing with friends, or countering a point that your manager is making – it’s not necessarily something we’re hardwired to feel comfortable doing.
Our reasons for not wanting to disagree could be that we may not want to be hated? Or we fear the repercussions of possible conflict? Perhaps we don’t want to get fired or risk not having our opinion not considered? Are the stakes high enough?
With experience, I realize, most people don’t recollect a lot of the people that agree with them on things – however, they certainly remember and value the people that disagree and are able to bring in a compelling counter.
This is not necessarily the post about making the “correct” argument, but more so cues to use to relay disagreement politely and possibly opening the floor for further conversation. I’ve found this to be handy in both professional and personal settings.
Here’s a living list of phrases that I use:
“I think differently about that” – especially at a workplace, this can signify that you take their point, you’ve thought about it, but have a counter you may want to present. It’s certainly less confrontational than saying “No, your point is wrong”.
“Feel free to counter this but” – displays openness to hearing the other side out.
“It doesn’t feel good to me right now” – there are differences between thinking and feeling, but often, saying no to commitments is hard. This is phrase ushers unwillingness in the present, but not necessarily in the future. Additionally, it warrants lesser rebuttal.
“I hear you” – this feels obvious, but often most conflict arises from people feeling like they’re not being heard. It’s a good idea to acknowledge the their point.
“Here’s how I think about it” – it’s a way to add perspective, and possibly counter a previously one-dimensional thought.
When you think otherwise, sometimes it’s good to voice what you’re thinking. I’m working on it, wbu?