Disagreements can save time and energy by avoiding critical mistakes and correcting course before it’s too late.
What do you do when you disagree with your manager or a senior executive? Do you express your opinion or do you choose to remain silent?
Speaking truth to power is a rare skill. Telling someone above you that they are wrong takes courage and confidence.
Holding your tongue and remaining silent or nodding your head in agreement, even when disagreeing, feels safe. This doesn’t require fighting your fears or going against your instincts. This is the easiest option when challenging your boss seems risky.
But not expressing what you think just because it’s uncomfortable is a costly mistake.
What happens if your manager commits to unrealistic deadlines because he or she was unaware of the complexity involved and you chose to remain silent?
What happens if a senior team member decides to migrate to a new technology stack, which is a terrible choice because you don’t tell them how their decision could be a maintenance nightmare?
Sharing disagreement at such times is not only crucial, but it is a strong sign of a healthy work culture. This demonstrates your ability to think clearly, navigate complexity, and solve problems. Disagreements can save time and energy by avoiding critical mistakes and correcting course before it’s too late.
But sharing your disagreement with your boss is tricky: you need to get their attention without being offensive.
Here are eight practices for disagreeing with people more powerful than you:
Ask permission to share your opinion
You may have the best intentions at heart when you share your disagreement. But your intentions are not enough.
The person you disagree with needs to be willing to hear other people’s opinions. Sharing your disagreement with someone who doesn’t want to listen to you is frustrating and demotivating. It makes you feel small. This discourages you from speaking again.