In a civilian job, not agreeing with your boss happens occasionally and you can say something, but how you approach a disagreement with your boss is critical when it occurs.
Bosses are human, too, with their own particular style of management ranging from hands-off to dictatorial. Assessing how much disagreement will be appreciated and tolerated could be the difference between a thoughtful and open discussion or being thrown out of your boss’s office.
Any good supervisor listens to his or her subordinates and takes their concerns into consideration when making decisions. Supervisors who fail to listen to their subordinates usually captain their ship straight on to the rocks. If you work under this type of boss, chances are that your opinion, no matter how serious the situation is, will never matter. Most bosses, however, realize that they are only as good as the people working for them and are always concerned about what their employees have to say. Disagreements, when delivered in a thoughtful and respectful manner, are how informed decisions are made.
A couple of things to consider when disagreeing with your boss are:
- Is your disagreement worthy of being brought to your boss’s attention? Employees who bombard their boss with every little issue can quickly paint themselves as hypochondriacs. Some supervisors may initially listen and act on these concerns. However, when faced with a never-ending cycle of conflict they will begin to view these comments as nothing more than “white noise” and simply move in a direction that they feel is best.
- When disagreeing with your boss, the worst thing you can do is voice your opinion in public or in a heated email. It is never a good idea to confront your boss in a meeting or storm into their office. Ask for an appointment to meet with them, and if email is not your strong suit, ask for the meeting face to face. Sending an emotion-driven email to request a meeting with highlighted words in bold print and numerous exclamation points is known as screaming in an email.
- If your disagreement is fact-based, then be prepared to present and discuss them. Any disagreement that lacks merit due to the omission of factual content will be dismissed as a baseless argument.
Disagreeing with your boss is not career suicide. In fact, managers who are confident in their abilities will want employees who disagree. If your organization supports a culture of divergent opinions, then disagreeing with your boss will be much easier. Employees who are encouraged to present their ideas become more engaged when their experience and talents are recognized. Disagreements solve problems, create better ideas, forge better personal relationships and promote personal growth and development.