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Disagree to get ahead

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in Workplace Communication

It’s generally a bad idea to go around contradicting the boss. You’ll earn a reputation as an obnoxious smartypants.

Yet savvy managers know how to disagree and come out smelling like a rose. First, they wait for the right moment. They may start by telling the boss privately, “I want to give you some information before you meet with the CEO tomorrow.” The implicit message is “I want to help you save face” not “I want to show I’m smarter than you.”

Second, they affirm some aspect of what they hear rather than contradicting it outright. They use such phrases as “While I see your point...” or “I agree with you under normal circumstances, but...”

Third, they don’t harp on minor points to trumpet their rightness. They identify the substantive issues and disagree in clear, concise language.

Finally, they stand by their claims when challenged. They explain how they arrived at their conclusion and let the evidence speak for itself.

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