Disagreeing with Someone More Powerful than You

What should you do when you disagree with someone more powerful than you? It may be tempting to say nothing, but consider the risks (for example, a project could be derailed, or you could lose the team’s trust) and then weigh them against the potential consequences of deciding to speak. Before you share your thoughts, think about what the powerful person cares about — it may be the credibility of their team or getting a project done on time. When you do speak up, connect your disagreement to a higher, shared purpose. It’s smart to give the powerful person “psychological safety” by asking permission, as in, “I know we seem to be moving toward our goal. I have reasons to think we will not get there. I’d like to lay out my reasoning. Would that be OK?” Watch your language carefully. Avoid any “judgment words,” such as “short-sighted,” “foolish,” or “hasty” — stick to the facts. Show respect  while maintaining your own self-respect.
*Source: Adapted from Harvard Business Review’s Management Tip of the Day.

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