How can I disagree politely?

Are you afraid to disagree with people in another language?

It can be difficult.  But, sometimes you need to say what you think.  Maybe it’s a serious discussion.  Maybe it’s an important topic.  You want to disagree with the speaker.  But, you also want to be polite and not upset anybody.

Here are a few tips you can try:

Show you understand
Before disagreeing, show the speaker you are listening to their opinion.  Show that you understand how they feel.  This will also encourage the speaker to listen to your opinion.  Before disagreeing, try using phrases such as ‘I see your point, but…’ or ‘Yes, but….’

Make your language more indirect
Make your disagreement softer and less direct.  This will make you seem less confrontational.  It’s also good to do this when you don’t have a strong opinion on the topic.  Try using phrases like ‘I wonder if…’ or ‘But don’t you think…?’

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Use polite language
Show respect to the speaker by making your disagreement polite.  This will help keep the discussion non-personal and professional.  Before disagreeing, try using phrases such as ‘I’m sorry but…’ or ‘I’m afraid….’

Give reasons for your disagreement
Support your opinion with reasons.  This will show the speaker you have thought about your opinion. Speakers will often respect you more for this (it will also show you not just trying to be difficult).  Try using phrases such as ‘The reason is…’ or ‘This is because….’  It’s also good to follow-up your reasons with examples.

Be ready to change your opinion
It’s always good to be flexible.  You might want to change your opinion after disagreeing.  Maybe the speaker gave you some more information.  Then, maybe you can change or rethink your opinion.  Try using phrases such as ‘Really? I didn’t know that’ and ‘Now that I think about it….’


Extra tip!! Try redirecting the discussion 

Sometimes your disagreement may continue with the speaker. Maybe you are also giving the same reasons for your disagreement. Or, maybe the disagreement is becoming heated or personal. Then, it’s a good idea to redirect or change the discussion. One way is to ask what the other people in the group think. Try using phrases such as ‘Let’s see what everyone else thinks.’ Another way is to suggest finishing the discussion and moving on. Try smiling and saying ‘That’s okay.’ Then, conclude using phrases such as ‘We don’t have to agree on everything’ or ‘I guess we agree to disagree on this point.’


Related links:

More tips for discussions

How can I explain things more clearly?


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