WORKPLACE / OCT. 07, 2014
version 7, draft 7

How to Disagree with Your Boss Without Losing Your Job

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There will be times when you disagree with your boss. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to share your disagreement. If you disagree in a positive manner, you can cultivate effective change and remain professional. If you disagree in a negative manner, you create more problems and can be reprimanded or worse, lose your job. This article will share tips on how to disagree with your boss without experiencing negative repercussions.

How to Disagree in a Positive Manner with Your Boss

There are four basic steps that you can take when disagreeing with your boss in a proactive and positive manner. The process begins with analyzing the issue and then speaking with your boss in private. The sandwich effect should be utilized and you need to focus on the company and career goals. The following is a list of those four steps.

1. Analyze the Issue

Before you take the time to confront your boss regarding the disagreement, it is vital that you step back and analyze the issue. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Am I complaining for no reason?
  • Do I have a solution for the problem?
  • Does my boss need to know about it?
  • Can this be handled by me?
  • What repercussions will I incur?

Being assertive is good for personal and professional growth and development. However, you need to make sure that you are constructive in your criticism and disagreements. This article shares the differences between responding and reacting in the workplace. Analyzing the situation helps you to respond positively rather than immediately disagree and react negatively.

2. Speak in Private

Critical discussions with your boss—especially those where you will be disagreeing—should be held in a private room at the office. Most of us have been there and done that when being so annoyed over an issue that we hastily type out a response. Hopefully, we never actually sent that rash and ineffective email. The same goes with spouting off without thinking. Any type of response to your boss where you disagree should never be done where the rest of your coworkers can hear the conversation. Here are some tips to follow.

  • Never defy your boss in public or during a meeting
  • Don’t rush into your boss’ office like a raging bull
  • Schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss the issue
  • Speak with your boss in person and never in an email

Remember that when you are having this discussion regarding your disagreement, you need to maintain a mature attitude and be professional in your behavior.

3. Use the “Sandwich Technique”

It is important that you begin the conversation with a positive tone of voice, expression and body language. Even though you differ in opinion on an issue, you need to be able to disagree in a positive manner. If you rant and rave and disagree in a negative manner, your boss will not respond in a positive way. Use the “sandwich technique” in your discussion.

  • Begin with a positive comment
  • Interject the issue to resolve
  • End with another positive comment

For more information on how to use this method in the discussion with your boss, take a look at this article on utilizing the "sandwich technique".  

4. Focus on the End Goal

This final step is as important as the rest. You need to remember to focus on the end goal which is a positive resolution to the conflict or disagreement. If you respond and act in a professional manner and present your case with maturity, you will increase your chances of being “heard” by your boss. However, even if you behave in the proper manner, your boss still may not respond the way you want. If that happens, behave like a mature adult who is career-minded.

  • Focus on your strategy and end goal
  • Present a positive solution which is company-minded
  • Always behave like a professional with career goals in mind

Everything that you do at work should constantly reflect your career goals. Being assertive and positively discussing an issue of disagreement with your boss should not be an exception. It can be a positive learning experience. However, you first need to know what your career goals are and how you plan to achieve them. This article shares tips on writing a career development plan which can guide your professional future.

See also: Top 5 jobs that May Not Suit the ’Health Conscious’ Individuals

Never be afraid to stand up for yourself, your opinions and your beliefs. However, you must make a concerted effort to maintain professional dignity; especially when discussing a disagreement with your boss. If you follow the four rules addressed in this article, you will increase your chances of success and not risk losing your boss.  

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