Change your words. Change your world.

How to Skillfully Disagree at Work and Make Your Ideas Hard to Resist

Not again!

Your manager has another “great” idea. However, this idea, like the previous ones, hasn’t been well-vetted. And again, they’re stubbornly convinced it’s the best thing to do and they want you to get it done.

What you really want to say is:

“You’re wrong…and I couldn’t disagree with you more, [insert descriptive insult].” 

But, you’re smart enough to keep those words from leaking through your lips and poisoning your reputation. 

This is frustrating. I get it.

One of the most important yet stressful conversations to have at work is when you disagree with a leader’s decision. This conversation can be very risky. 

This conversation can be very risky because you want to disagree, and you don’t know exactly how to start or end that conversation without incinerating your career.

This is especially true when the stakes are high and leaders appear stubbornly cemented to a decision you don’t want to support.

Get the conversation right, and people may like you (at least until they think you’re out for their position).  Get it wrong, and, you may sever your comfy employment arrangement.

The good news is there’s a safe way to disagree, share your ideas, and keep from being forced into something you think is wrong, ever again.

But before I share the “how-to”, here’s a quick story you’ll find very familiar and relevant.

This Risky Conversation Has a Reward

During a recent coaching conversation, a leader at a technology firm complained about constantly freezing up at critical moments when he wanted to disagree with his boss.

Here’s how he phrased his concern:

“I don’t know how to convince the leaders of the project to consider my idea. They’re moving in the wrong direction. The leadership team is convinced of the solution and doesn’t seem interested in using my expertise. I feel like an order-taker. I’m frustrated.” 

This is hard. 

If you see yourself confronting a similar situation, then the strategic set of “magic words” I’m going to share from Phil M. Jones’ Exactly What To Say book will help you create a breakthrough…as they did for my client. 

You’ll melt away the resistance that’s keeping you from getting your expertise used and even celebrated, just like my client did. His boss and his internal clients are finally listening to him.

You too can enjoy a new level of courage and boldness to better serve others. There’s no more feeling that icky remorse from not speaking up at the right time. 

Once you’re comfortable with using this set of words, and embrace your new confidence, you’ll avoid getting tongue-tied in those critical moments when it’s your turn to influence others. 

A Cornerstone of Influential Conversations

“People do things for their own reasons, not yours.”

Great leaders, whether they know it or not, utilize this principle when exercising their influence. 

They know having a head-to-head battle to prove themselves right and the other person wrong is a shameful waste of time and energy. 

Instead, the celebrated, influential leaders seek to empathetically introduce a perspective changer that breaks through resistance, so that people have their own reason to do what you want them to.

Here Are the “Magic Words” That Bust Through Resistance

The “magic words” you use to help someone change their perspective and make a decision that’s in their best interest when they’re momentarily convinced otherwise are:

“What do you know about…”

followed by:

“Would it be helpful if I…”

They’re simple, yet powerful.

Read on to see why these “magic words” will work well for you.

Magic Words: “What do you know about…”

These “magic words” safely create uncertainty in the other person…just enough to open their curiosity to know more. This works like magic because the fear of not knowing is a strong motivator. 

When you say: “What do you know about…,” you allow the person to protect their status while inviting them to be more curious. In response to these words, you may hear something like: “I actually know a bit about that, but what else can you tell me.”

The door is open. 

You have permission to proceed, and this is exactly what you want in order to share your alternative perspective with a receptive audience.

Magic Words: “Would it be helpful if I…”

Now that you’ve widened the curiosity gap with your perspective changer, you should follow up with an offer. Don’t wait for someone to ask for your help; they may never ask!

Offer it. 

When you say: “Would it be helpful if I..” you again seek their permission to do something that will benefit them. It’s hard to say ‘no’ to an offer that is truly helpful. These words work so well because they remove barriers of entry that could keep them from considering your idea.  They also position you as a well-intentioned, trusted advisor. 

It’s Hard To Resist A Trusted Advisor

You have an opportunity now to practice using this sequence of “magic words” to elevate your influence to get your expertise used. If you’re ready to avoid being ignored, then a simple next step for you in the next few minutes is to:

Now that you know exactly what to say, go have that important conversation.

Steven Lozada

Steven Lozada

A master of helping teams achieve more in all areas of their productivity. Steven believes that you are just one conversation away from the change you are looking for and is excited to help you make the moment happen.

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