12 most agreeable ways to disagree with co-workers

If you disagree with a co-worker, don’t shut down his idea with “You’re wrong!” Try one of these alternatives to spark a constructive discussion.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

The workplace can be a perilous and thorny scene for disagreements.

Being loud and clear leaves no room for misinterpretation, but it also leaves no room for anyone else’s ideas. Staying silent doesn’t air dissenting opinions, so that’s no good, either.

How can you find more neutral ground?

Here are 12 ways to register your disagreement without clobbering co-workers:

1. “Hmmm …” (then silence)

It can be hard to stay silent when you disagree with someone, but when you do, you actually give a reaction—it’s just a silent one. Chances are the person will follow up with more detail, or try to explain his idea better or more convincingly. Plus, it leaves some space in the conversation.

2. “Why?”

If silence is too subtle, try asking “why?” Then keep quiet. It’s respectful but direct.

3. “I hear the pros. What about some of the cons?”

This response shows you’re listening but dubious. It invites your co-worker to think through other options and share them.

4. “So, what do you consider the downsides to be?”

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.