6 Rules for Disagreeing Agreeably

6 Rules for Disagreeing Agreeably

We have all been awed by a Manager or a Team Member who always seems to know what to say and how to say it in any situation.

These people know how to communicate with diplomacy, tact and confidence.

The way in which we communicate can elicit positive or negative emotions. If we communicate aggressively, without respect or sensitivity, defensive or angry emotions can prevent others from hearing the message we are trying to convey. Communicating with diplomacy and tact is an approach that combines strength and sensitivity and keeps negative emotions at bay.

The 6 Rules for Disagreeing Agreeably

Rule #1: Give others the benefit of the doubt

Maybe the person who made that outrageous generalization isn’t really insensitive. Or maybe this person has had a painful experience that made him overreact.

Rule #2: Listen to learn and understand

After giving someone the benefit of the doubt, listen to learn and truly understand why this person holds this belief. We must let him/her know we’ve heard them and we are genuinely trying to see things from their perspective.

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Rule #3: Always take responsibility for our own feelings

Always take responsibility for our own feelings when disagreeing with someone. Also, we need to make a commitment to respond using “I” statements only. This is because, when we begin with “you” we come off as blaming and confrontational, and immediately put the other person on the defensive. And this situation reduces the chance of our point of view being heard.

Rule #4: Use a cushion

Connect or “cushion” a different opinion, starting with “I hear what you’re saying” or “I appreciate your view on.” Again, begin with the word “I” and not “You said…” or it will sound confrontational.

Rule #5: Eliminate “But” or However”

Eliminate the words “but” or “however” from our vocabulary. Once we have cushioned the other person’s opinion, use “and,” or pause and say nothing, following the cushion. Acknowledging the individual’s point of view and following it with a “but” or “however” erases the acknowledgement.

Rule #6: Use relevant and factual evidence

State our point of view or opinion with relevant and factual evidence. This helps us keep our emotions out of the equation, especially by using the following formula:

Take time to reflect:
 What do I think?
 Why do I think it?
 What evidence do I have?

Then speak:
 “One example is” 
“This shows that”
 “Therefore, I think”

Keep these rules handy, feel free to print out the infographic above and share it with your colleagues and team mates. The more people know about these rules, the easier it’ll be to manage disagreeing agreeably!

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Maggie Atienza
Maggie Atienza
Maggie Atienza has a multi-faceted background, having worked in advertising, marketing and outdoor education. She's a certified coach with an innate desire to support others in finding their own path to true growth, unearth their power within and embrace their authentic self.
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