When conversing with colleagues, friends, or family members, there are times when you may be told of an opinion with which you disagree. If the content is trivial, it can be brushed off, but there are times when the content is so important that “I really need to express my disagreement to the other person. Communication expert Lisa B. Marshall explains tips on how to successfully disagree without offending the other person.
How to Tactfully Disagree with Someone
When you disagree with someone, the first thing to consider is, “Is this opinion worth disagreeing with?” Lisa B. Marshall points out. If you think about what would happen if you just let it slide, or what would happen as a result of disagreeing, and you come to the conclusion that it is not worth it, then you can abandon the idea of disagreement. If you come to the conclusion that you should still disagree, Lisa B. Marshall summarizes the following points for communicating your opinion with as little displeasure as possible.
1: Think positively about the other party.
If you think that the other person is a bad person, your tone and voice will be harsh, and the atmosphere will tend to be harsh. Lisa B. Marshall advises that by thinking positively about your conversational partner as a good person, it is easier to control the tone of your voice and your words.
Also, even when the other person uses a rude tone of voice, you can cool yourself down by thinking that the person may have a headache or that something bad may have happened. By treating the other person without giving him or her a bad impression, you can convey your disagreement with respect and sincerity.
2: Avoid direct negativity
Avoiding direct negativity and using indirect language or generalizations when expressing disagreement with the other person’s opinion can also be helpful in conveying your opinion without offending the other person. It is also helpful to avoid offending the other person by using indirect language or generalizations. Is it true? Do you think it’s possible for sure? “Are you sure? Do you think it would work?” Phrases such as “That’s an interesting opinion,” “Do you think it’s possible, for sure?
Lisa B. Marshall also recommends avoiding direct negatives, such as saying, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” instead of saying, “That’s a terrible idea,” or saying, “I’m not sure I agree with you at all,” instead of “I don’t agree with you at all. Avoid direct negatives by saying “I’m not sure I agree with you” instead of “I don’t know if that’s an idea.
3: Use the softest language possible.
There is no need to unnecessarily attack the other person when communicating a disagreement, so Lisa B. Marshall recommends using the softest possible language. Instead of saying, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” say, “Perhaps you haven’t explained your thinking well enough,” or “Would you care to explain why you think the way you do?” it is less damaging to the other person to say, “You probably don’t know what you’re talking about.
He also recommends using “I” or “we” instead of “you” as a helpful trick in reducing damage to the other party. Rather than pointing out to the other person, “You need to get this done right now,” say, “We hope to get this done in the near future. How can we work toward making this happen?” It is better to emphasize the needs of the many people.
4: Find common ground with the other person
In most cases, even when you disagree with someone, there is a premise or rationale that you both share. Therefore, you can ask, “We agree on (point we both share), but have you considered (new point of view)?” I understand (mutually agreed upon point of view/common ground) on this issue. If you start the conversation by finding common ground with each other, it is easier to convey your disagreement to the other person.
5: Words that should not be said
Lisa B. Marshall also summarizes words that should not be said when communicating disagreement. For example, many people may express disagreement by saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t agree with you,” but unless you have hurt someone, you should not apologize unnecessarily. Your opinion has value and should be respected.”
The word “but” is another word that should not be used when expressing disagreement, he said. I see.” “I see. However~” “I agree with you to some extent. However~,” denying follow-up or understanding of the previous statement to the other person does not make the other person feel good. Therefore, Lisa B. Marshall advised caution when using negative words such as “but”.