How to Disagree with your Manager

Posted by Michelle • October 29, 2015 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 2 min read

We’ve all been there: Your instinct is to speak up but instead you pause, maybe there’s an uncomfortable shift and you bite your tongue.


Many employees might never think to openly disagree with their boss, but the reality is that good managers don’t make every decision on their own. A recent Deloitte University Press article cites employee feedback and input on management decisions as a factor in employee engagement and satisfaction in the workplace. Still, how to disagree with your manager can be tricky water to navigate. Below are the top 5 things to consider before speaking up:

1. Your relationship with your manager.

It’s always easier to express your opinion or to have a challenging conversation with someone when there is a solid foundation between the two of you. Take time to build this with your boss as a way to ensure that a disagreement isn’t the only meaningful interaction that takes place.


2. The method of delivery.

Before you speak up in a team meeting or send off a passionate email — consider the pros of having this discussion in a face to face meeting. Some people can become defensive when challenged in front of their team and and as you can imagine, the tone of an email can be hard to decipher.


3. Boss-worthy.

There’s a big difference between disagreeing with your boss about a minor company policy versus something that will affect your team or even your performance directly. Be selective.


4. Ask questions.

Your manager may have not shared all the gritty details initially. Learn more about why your manager is considering a particular decision. The more questions you ask, the more you may realize they are making the best choice for the team.


5. Company focused.

Staying focused on the internal pulse of your company will help you level the playing field when having a conversation with your manager. Presenting an argument based on how this decision will impact the company as a whole will likely resonate most with your manager.


Ultimately, don’t be discouraged if your boss doesn’t change their mind. This type of two-way communication fosters a good relationship with your boss and will let them know that you care about the success of the organization as a whole.

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