Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Four great words for disagreeing without being disagreeable

There are times when dealing with others—coworkers, consultants, contractors, even bosses—when you have to disagree in full or in part. This can be difficult when you’re dealing with a) someone who outranks you, b) someone who is partially right, or worse, c) someone who gets easily offended if they’re not always right. This is when you use a verbal concept known as fogging. The four most obvious words used in fogging are: “You could be right.”
You’ve probably fogged before in conversation and didn’t realize it, but there’s sound reasoning behind using it. By acknowledging that the other person has a) spoken and b) has an opinion, you’re able to get to your point or opinion without shutting them down. It allows you to introduce new information or opinion while keeping things civil:

Boss: See, this layout allows people to get a clear shot from the front of the store to the back, and they can see more of the merchandise. It’ll increase their sales.
You: Well, I see what you mean. You may be onto something. However, this layout also leaves the dressing room unmonitored by the staff at the main desk.
Boss: Hm. Yeah, well…
You: If we make the main desk an L shape instead of an H, the staff can see the dressing rooms better. [sketching] See?

Bear in mind that when you disagree with someone, it can give your opinion a little more weight if you have a possible solution to a problem. Even if they don’t use your solution, you’re not just being Dr. No about everything.

Other good fogging phrases:
You may be right.
That certainly could work.
That’s one option (and it could work).
That’s an idea/That’s a pretty good idea.

1 comment:

  1. directing focus towards a solution instead of who's right or wrong is a good strategy that extends beyond the workplace. just make sure to work with people you are able to reason with.