Can You Disagree Without Being Disagreeable?



Have you noticed that for some reason, when people are disagreeing, what you hear often digresses? It seems that some people resort to yelling and if it’s online its nasty comments?


Can’t we disagree without being disagreeable?


Recently, I’ve been teaching in my webinars about assertiveness and constructive confrontation. A key piece of advice is to keep the emotions out of the communications. When we attempt to communicate from an emotional place, the other person stops listening and most likely gets defensive. It’s a natural reaction and not one that promotes good communication.


In other words, you won’t be effective. Which really makes what was said, beside the point. If you are angry, yelling or making nasty remarks – why bother if what you’re saying will not sway anyone’s thinking or actions? Or if the other person isn’t hearing what you’re saying?


As part of my advice about keeping emotions out of the conversations, I suggest dealing with issues quickly. Some people let problems languish, which means whatever is of concern will not improve. For some people, they let issues fester until their only reaction is to get mad. I know a few passive-aggressive people who wait until they blow up as their standard practice. They loathe confrontation and use the “out of control” nature of anger as their excuse. In essence, they are still not able to take responsibility for their own feelings and value. They make blowing up the other person’s fault. Nice.


So, how do you disagree without being disagreeable?

  • You say very simply: “I disagree.” Short, sweet and to the point. This also leaves no room for misinterpretation.
  • If you want to state why you disagree, state your reasons with the fewest possible words. The more you say, the more apt you are to say something confusing.
  • Shut up. Silence is a great tool and very under utilized.
  • Omit personal comments. Saying things disparaging the other person or their opinions not only isn’t helpful; it’s not influential and only damaging.
  • If you’re emotional, go cool off. Although I advocate dealing with things quickly, if you’re emotions are swinging you need to wait until you are in an emotional neutral territory before opening your mouth.
  • Think about your goal. I’ve been in situations where I felt what was being said lacked perspective or balance. My goal in my disagreement was to expand the thinking and balance. Be clear about why you need to disagree.
  • Don’t disagree for the sake of disagreeing. Some people seem to always need to disagree with whatever is being said. At some point, too much disagreement becomes annoying even if you do your disagreeing as I have mentioned.


It would be great to think we would all be on the same page with other people, all the time. Life and work do not operate that way. Besides, it would be boring?


Have you ever thought that you would like some good training on LEADING? Are you a leader now and would like to learn how you could enhance your skills to lead those who follow you? Join me TODAY at 1:00 PM for my LIVE WEBINAR-Are You Leading Change or Following. Oh ya, and it’s FREE! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE LIVE EVENT OR TO RECEIVE THE REPLAY VIDEO VIA EMAIL.

About Dorothy

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is the Introvert Whisperer, Career & Leadership, speaker and author.

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