How to Disagree with Someone More Powerful: The Harvard Business Review Guide reviews

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Just agreeing with your boss (or your boss’s boss) feels easier, but it’s often better to voice your disagreement. HBR’s Amy Gallo shows how.

00:00 Let’s say you disagree with someone more powerful than you. Should you say so?
00:30 Before deciding, do a risk assessment
01:39 When and where to voice disagreement
02:20 What to say …
04:00 … and how to say it
05:38 Ok, let’s recap!

How exactly do you voice dissent with your superior? And is it always worth it to do so? First, weigh the risk of pushback or a negative reaction from a boss against the risk of not speaking up. If you do decide to voice your opinion, there are some best practices to keep in mind. State your opinions as facts, avoiding using judgment words. In addition, ask permission to dissent instead of offering an unsolicited opinion. Keep in mind that the final decision is still in the hands of your boss, but being honest and respectful will show them that they have more options.

Reading list:

How to Disagree with Someone More Powerful than You
https://hbr.org/2016/03/how-to-disagree-with-someone-more-powerful-than-you

How to Disagree with Your Boss
https://hbr.org/2014/11/how-to-disagree-with-your-boss

Say No Without Burning Bridges
https://hbr.org/2014/06/say-no-without-burning-bridges

Produced by Amy Gallo, Scott LaPierre, and Jessica Gidal
Video by Andy Robinson
Edited by Jessica Gidal
Design by Riko Cribbs and Karen Player

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#HarvardBusinessReview #HowTo #Disagree

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50 reviews for How to Disagree with Someone More Powerful: The Harvard Business Review Guide reviews

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  1. billy dean

    Sounds like how you disagree can be just as important as disagreeing.

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  2. Jacoline Loewen

    Good to look at the risk.

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  3. Thorsten

    Video feels like ass kissing to a king. Sad we live in such times we still have to bend over and kiss feet

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  4. A A

    good points

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  5. Jennifer KY Chu

    Thanks for this video. It helps us to disagree professionally and foster communication and understanding.

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  6. Me Justme

    Phyllis, how dare you disagree with Michael Scott?

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  7. Warren Ferster

    Fantastic advice! Thank you for posting.

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  8. Food Physics And Body Dynamics

    Will you please give some thought to how a person with a disability, who has achieved sufficient success may be able to share that experience, yet bumps up into a myriad of thresholds which are designed to narrow the field, rather than showing inclusive right to lending and credit, as well as markets. We find large gaps in the process of sharing what we believe to be essential components in the nutrition education field, based on science as it relates to food and healthy living. Feeling confounded and block at every turn, as people seek knowledgeable methods to achieve maximum wellness. #fatigued #confounded

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  9. Someguy1357

    Do supervisors go through these jumps and hoops to give feedback?… If not, then why should non-supervisors have to?

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  10. Helen Le

    Ok so now that we’ve established that HBR is for losers, how do you disagree with a “powerful” person who envies you?

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  11. Erin M

    I sent my boss an email last week trying to coax him to take a moral stance on something. He turned a deaf ear to me. Not sure what to do now because i know he hired me for that very purpose.

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  12. Kurokuma

    I think you need to do an episode on How to Disagree with the Left.

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  13. Dad Dy

    In the end, know the person who is holding the authority. If this person have a record of being a stubborn dickhead, lay low and work behind the screen.

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  14. richard-social 812

    It takes an immensely high EQ to follow this strategy when the other party is just being plain stupid

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  15. Prerit Jain

    Wait a minute. Boxing isn't a strategic sport?

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  16. N. Pak

    I would say, "alright you snarky overweight heifer."

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  17. somedeveloperblokey

    That is hilarious.

    You should've titled this ridiculous nonsense, "How to be an obedient serf – for slaves"

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  18. Stephen !

    When presented with a " Need for Your Decision" from Others …
    That Individual usually has Already Spent Time Mulling Over / Deciding ..
    and in some Prof & Personal Situations ..
    has Likely Thought over "What to Say to You"
    And they might Strongly Suggest Your Buy In .. Right Away ..

    I have found that the Simple Expression > Let Me Think it Over ..
    not Only Defuses the Other's Imposed Urgency on You .
    but it gives You Time to Think Over and make the right Decision for You Perspective ..
    not the other Person .

    It also will give you Opportunity for You to Observe
    how the other person Reacts to their
    desire to Rush to "their" judgement ..
    Their ReAction could be Very Telling as to their Actual Intent ..
    or their Opinion of Your Suggestion.

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  19. Soul Frequency

    Couldn’t keep watching with the childlike snaps and background drums. I guess I’ll keep trusting intuition.

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  20. fdfac

    Several issues with this notion and the biggest being Dunning-Kruger, which seems to be the playbook for any millennial.

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  21. DTHRocket

    I disagree with my boss's decision to have me get vaccinated.

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  22. Vlad Moldovan

    If you phrase it like this and do all these steps they might end up listening even less. Either they will be bored by the mechanical approach and intros by the time you get to the point, or you will be perceived as being more catholic than the pope, which is also usually a turn off.

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  23. fatehyabali

    🥺

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  24. Ian Patrick

    Great strategies! Thank you!

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  25. erikbyt

    Thanks a lot for this guide. Again and again I come back to this topic to learn more about it. One point I'm not clear about though: How is it less threatening to meet a more powerful person in private? I feel more threatened when I meet a person that has more power than my direct manager. In a more public setting at least there are other people seeing the abuse, if it happens.

    I love the reminder that I should look for the shared goal first. From time to time I find I can do that already. Also loving the idea to state my point as my opinion and leaving the "final call" to them, which might be true no matter what I think.

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  26. artraft

    What if the boss is trying to KID what you did (That is nothing!!! I've done A, B, C) or to BOARD what you did (See we are all working for a number) ?

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  27. Silk

    1:07: #DrDeborahBirx
    It appears her reputation suffered for not speaking up during the last president’s statements of injecting bleach

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  28. Dodi Hamdani Sukiman

    I have a formula for giving our opinion in a fair manner. It's called ABCD
    A. Approve. Give nod and interest when you hear other people. I.e: "ok…"
    B. Breakdown. Ask the detail about their message or opinion and make sure that you have same point to discuss and reconfirm the point as the goals of the idea is also good so you can have a same page situation
    C. Compare. After you have breakdown the opinion and state the goal, then you can give them your disagreement or your different notion.
    D. Decide. Make a final statement for you to give them the decision depend on who is the one who has the decision.

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  29. Des TK

    Is this nonsense or what?
    More questions than answers!
    1. Disagree and be right (boss values you)
    2. Disagree and be wrong (boss feels great about himself)
    …just speak up.

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  30. Physics Videos by Eugene Khutoryansky

    You should be able to disagree with your superiors in the exact same way that you disagree with everyone else. If you can't speak your mind freely, then this is probably not a place you want to work at. Also, if you wait to express your opinion, in many cases the bad idea / wrong direction ends up building momentum and it becomes much harder to stop later on.

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  31. Jon Douglas

    "Ask for forgiveness, not permission" comes to mind with these conversations. Otherwise you never have them especially when they are needed.

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  32. khushal

    Or your workplace where people are punished for speaking their mind: communist Party

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  33. lawngaiyi

    Harvard's Commercial Review?
    Yeah, so sorry.

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  34. Hernan Perez

    Are you a nurse?

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  35. James Black

    I just punch them in a face

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  36. blues998050

    Do the right thing and say it ppl

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  37. Deven Satam

    Am I the only one who thinks the narrator resembles Phyllis from 'The Office' ?? but then she gradually lost a ton of weight ?

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  38. Gowri Vellasamy

    Asian bosses are different, most of them do not like any of their subordinate to defy their ideas or words. ' I SAY U DO' is the motto

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  39. crazycool1128

    I'm impressed that this video acknowledges the real world possibility of having a vindictive boss.

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  40. suzi Manipur

    😍🌹

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  41. mario priston

    Wow amazing talk

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  42. John Wick

    Me: I would like to state my reasoning, would that be okay?

    Boss: Nope

    Me: Got it

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  43. Saga Poetic

    Would this work with one's mom, too? XD

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  44. T210

    Who in the world hired a boss that can't have a meaningful discussion without all the silly posturing and hand-holding or they get all butt-hurt? This shouts the underling has zero relationship with this boss, wavering belief in what they are trying to say and THAT is the trouble here. Best keep that pie hole shut until you are more certain and run it by your direct boss…or go work at Starbucks.

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  45. Anthony Minchinton

    This entire video is based upon the premise that the more powerful person is reasonable – this is not a trait of powerful people – ergo a complete waste of time.

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  46. FMFvideos

    I live in north korea and my boss is this chubby guy who thinks he owns the place. Tomorrow I'll tell him what I think about this place. Wish me luck guys!

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  47. Sabyasachi Bandyopadhyay

    And after following all these steps you would probably end up diluting the meaning in your disagreement to the point of its non-existence. The vital power in your speech is You, and that "You" has been successfully emasculated. Well done! I have lot of such people in my workplace who in the bid to not "offend" anyone cannot speak their mind. Trust me, no one takes them seriously. They are generally under-achievers in the workplace too, because they have curtailed their passion, just in order to survive.

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  48. Malvinder kaur

    if somebody doesn't have digestion in ego wrapped not to even listen to something said in pleasant and firm niceness, then you are obviously in wrong company and wrong group, better be with the ones who can listen then put their point across and a conversation starts with pro contra points and then let the deciding person take and decide what suits them. so irritating stop saying powerful nobody is so called powerful as such power for what… i pointed out can a baldy grow hair on its head or can you stop a raging storm? No is answer, power my ass.

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  49. Jesse Pasley

    Never disagree and then change jobs every few years. That way you neither cause confrontation nor do you have to live with the consequences of management making bad decisions. Good for my paycheck, but bad for investors. Tough shit.

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  50. Mina Malik

    Excellent

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