Ask Amber: Is there a way to respectfully disagree with a senior colleague or boss?

By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

It’s bound to happen: A coworker or superior says something that you don’t agree with. As a young professional, it’s important to learn how to dispute something in a professional, constructive manner. Just because you are young does not mean your ideas are not valid and helpful.  Make sure to contribute positively to the team, but do not hesitate to speak up when you have a valid argument.

The best way to demonstrate that you are not disagreeing simply to disagree is to remind yourself and your coworkers that you are all working toward the common goal of moving your organization forward. If the best interests of the organization are not at the heart of the discussion, then nobody wins. So don’t let a disagreement turn hostile says an article on

Stick to the facts! If your argument is rooted in tangible evidence, you are less likely to come off as emotional and surly. Present the research, statistics or reviews that you feel prove you are on the right track. In a calm, rational manner point out why the data point toward your argument. Always be mindful of the other person’s expertise and feelings. Just because you have differing points of view does not give you a hall pass on manners. Once you make your case, STOP, says Beating a dead horse or letting the argument devolve into other issues is where some go wrong.

Respect the final outcome—whatever it may be. Once a decision has been made and approved by the majority, you need to get onboard with it, even if you initially disagreed. Doing so will show that you are mature and willing to do what is best for the company. . Sulking or throwing a tantrum will have the opposite effect, and you could put your job in jeopardy if you do this regularly. The same goes for “winning.” If you gloat, you risk offending colleagues and losing their support in future endeavors.

Respectful dialogue on differing opinions can really help an organization to progress. There is nothing wrong with presenting new ideas—in fact—it shows you care enough to do the research, compare outcomes and speak your mind.


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