How to Disagree with Your Boss

Your boss isn’t always right, and sometimes you need to show them the error of their ways, however difficult that may be. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows how to effectively (and constructively) disagree with your boss.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!

disagreeing with your boss

In Review – How to Disagree with Your Boss

There are ways to disagree that are not disagreeable, Jennifer said. Disagreement is not bad by definition, and it can actually generate positive results when working on a project.

What Can Disagreement Do That’s Positive?

  • Stimulate conversation
  • Build trust and respect
  • Provide insights and new perspectives
  • Prevent train wrecks and bad decisions
  • Change course or switch gears
  • Inspire engagement from others
  • Generate new options and solutions
  • Create synergy among the team
  • Serve as an icebreaker

But Disagreements Can Be Negative, Too

Jennifer wasn’t trying to rewrite what disagreements are. They can be points of conflict, just not all conflicts have to be violent or unruly. However, disagreements can be loaded and often explode, creating tension, stress, chaos, a shutdown of activity and blatant or underlying hostilities to any team.

Therefore, there is a time to disagree and a time not to. For example, Jennifer said a best practice would be to never disagree during a creative work session. That’s because you can’t create and destroy at the same time.

Related: Constructive Criticism: A Powerful Tool for Managers

When Is Disagreeing Ineffective, and When is it Effective?

If you’re arguing, you’re disagreeing ineffectively. Don’t talk over another person, because that’s disrespectful and will immediately turn the other person off to any merit in your argument. It won’t help your cause to belittle the person you’re disagreeing with or to throw everything at them, including the kitchen sink. It looks desperate and is ineffective.

However, if you want to disagree and be effective, first wait for an opening. Then ask your boss these questions: “Are you open for input/options? Have you thought about…?”

Then use your disagreement as a starting point to end with an agreement on the common solution or end result. Lead the discussion different ways to get where you both want to go.

Related: How to Negotiate in the Workplace: A Practical Guide

Never forget to speak with honor and respect, it’ll get you a lot further. Plus, you’ll likely be working with these people again. You don’t want to burn bridges or have that bad attitude returned to you at some later date. Follow these tips and two diverging points can meet in agreement.

Pro-Tip: Disagreements aren’t bad or good, it depends on how you use them. However, even with the best intentions, a disagreement can lead to conflict. So familiarize yourself with these 10 conflict resolution strategies.

Take it Further: When your boss is a stakeholder, these conversations are especially important and can have far reaching impacts. Learn how to deal with difficult stakeholders.

Thanks for watching!


Today, we’re talking about how to disagree with your boss. Well, in this whiteboard session, we’re actually gonna talk about why disagreeing is not necessarily bad. We’re also going to talk about how there are ineffective and effective ways to do it and some best practices.

So, first of all, why disagreeing is not bad. It actually can generate and stimulate some positive end results.

So, first of all, it can stimulate conversation not only between you and your boss, but sometimes other team members. It can build trust and respect between you and your boss. They actually sometimes appreciate you bringing input or insights into the situation.

It can also provide additional or new insights, and new perspectives, prevent train wrecks possibly on a project or an initiative and stop bad decisions. It can change course or switch gears on directions that they may be going.

It can also inspire engagement from others. When people see you successfully disagree with the boss, it can provide an opening and a safe environment for others as well.

It can also, through this mechanism, generate new options and solutions, also synergy among the team and serve as an icebreaker to open and shift the environment.

So, let’s talk about disagreeing can generate is we all know tension, internal stress, sometimes chaos among the team or the environment. It can actually shut people down and can sometimes create hostility.

So, a best practice is during the course of disagreeing, we’ve learned that it’s not a good idea to disagree during creative work sessions.

Why is that? Because it’s not a best practice to try to create and destroy at the same time.

So, when we look at ineffective and effective ways to disagree with your boss, let’s first of all talk about some things that are ineffective, arguing, maybe talking over each other, belittling, maybe blaming and then just throwing in the kitchen sink.

While we’re talking about this, we’re just going to pile on everything else that we, you know, wanna put in there too.

So, what we found effective is to get an opening, you know, get an opening, ask some questions from your boss and see if they’re even open to have input.

So, some…two good questions would be, are you open for other input or options? If they say no, you know, they may have reasons for decisions they make or courses they have to go in.

So, you can also ask, have you thought about this, or have you considered another option? That way you can gauge to see if they’re open for discussion.

Also, agree on the common solution or end result. What are we trying to solve here? If you think about what you’re trying to solve, then you can discuss different options, different ways to get there.

Then always speak with honor and respect to not only your boss, but other team members and people you may be arguing with as well. And then come to some kind of agreement. Sometimes we have to come to the agreement that we agree to disagree.

So, here are a few effective ways to disagree with your boss, and if you need additional resources or information then visit our website at

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