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How to Respectfully Disagree with Your Boss

Disagreeing with your boss can be challenging. Learn how to present alternate solutions without ruining your relationship or putting your job in jeopardy.

Truly collaborative teams work together to find solutions. If you disagree with a decision your supervisor has made, you may struggle with the decision to speak up. However, you may bring a different perspective that your supervisor hasn't considered. Presenting alternate solutions can provide an opportunity for your entire team to grow. Here are some tips to ensure you present your solution in a respectful way without putting your job in jeopardy.

Be selective. Approach your manager with larger concerns that affect personal or team performance. If you have issues with a colleague, try to work it out with them directly.

Pick an appropriate time and place. Schedule a time to discuss your concerns in advance. Avoid addressing your concerns right before an important meeting or deadline. Don't publicly criticize your manager. Sending an email may be tempting, but communicating face-to-face can avoid misinterpretations and allow you to quickly reach solutions. Virtual employees who don't have the in-person option should use video chat or a phone call to voice concerns.

Bring a solution to the table. If you see a problem, offer a solution. Supervisors are more likely to validate your concerns and implement a change if you are willing to present a strong argument and workable solutions to solve the problem. Show your supervisor how your idea will benefit them, your team or a client.

Start on a positive note. Discuss what is working well before you move on to your recommendations to improve the situation. Try to stay positive and respectful with your recommendations. Leading off with a negative comment may put your manager on the defensive and your point may not be well-received.

Know when to move on. Once you've presented your argument, understand that your supervisor will ultimately decide whether to implement the approach. Continuing to rehash the same issue because you disagree with the way forward will undoubtedly add tension to your relationship with your manager and team. Move on once your supervisor makes a decision.

Following these tips can make disagreeing with your boss less stressful and risky. To learn more about workplace etiquette, visit the Managing Challenges section of the Employment Readiness lifecycle phase of MySECO. You can also speak with a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use the Live Chat feature on the MySECO website.

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