Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Are you a yes man?

Are you having difficulty disagreeing at work or in your social circle?

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Michelle share with you ways to express yourself in English when you disagree with someone or something.

Listen in and get tips on how to overcome the uncomfortable feeling of speaking up when you disagree.

Lindsay and Michelle will show you the 3-step system to disagree respectfully in business English.

Do You Feel Awkward When You Disagree?

Lindsay asks Michelle if she tends to disagree a lot with friends in conversations?

Michelle says that she couldn’t think of a recent conversation in which she disagreed but she does hope that she doesn’t always agree with what others say.

She adds that we shouldn’t always think that disagreeing is something negative.

Disagreeing is a sign that the conversation will be interesting.

It may not always be the case but it can help you learn about other points of view and ideas.

Lindsay agrees with this. Your view of disagreements will depend on your upbringing.

If you are used to subdued arguments then it may be uncomfortable for you to express disagreement.

If you find it awkward, it can be very difficult especially nowadays when there are so many things to argue about.

Michelle says the key to this is to learn how to express yourself and talk through the difference.

It is a good skill to pick up to disagree in English and maintain your connections.

Today’s episode has been inspired by a question from one of the All Ears English listeners.

Hi All Ears English team,

I am a big fan of this podcast. I’ve been into it for the past 2 years. I am originally from India living in the States for about 12 years now. In a group setting, when someone talks ‘for’ a topic excitedly, what are the different ways to politely say my opinion differs and give my perspective and experiences? If I agree with the speaker, it’s easy to say “I agree” followed by my reasoning, but hard when I disagree.

Thank you.

Best Regards

Gowthami Arun

3-step System to Disagree in Business English

It is often easier to just keep agreeing and not bring up a disagreement.

Lindsay also adds that it can be additionally difficult for someone to express disagreement if they come from a culture where disagreeing is seen as a threat.

In Japan, it may be frowned upon for an employee to disagree with their superiors in front of their colleagues.

In America, it is not as strict to speak up.

Michelle shares that they’ve done episodes related to this topic before.

You can view the following:

Here are three steps that Lindsay and Michelle recommend to help you gain the confidence to disagree.

Step 1: Opening Statement

This is the first part of your argument.

You can use the following phrases as your opening statement.

  • Interesting point. I see it a little differently…
  • I’m not sure I completely agree…
  • I have a slightly different opinion…
  • Oh I see. I have a different perspective…

All these phrases are not too aggressive and aren’t disrespectful but all are assertive enough for you to stand your ground.

Step 2: Reason

This is the next step once you finish giving your opening statement.

You will now give the details of why you don’t agree.

You can start with either of the following:

  • In my experience…
  • I’ve always thought about it like this…
  • The way I see it…
  • I see it this way…

Lindsay says to add credibility to your reason, you need to support it with facts or your own experience.

Step 3: Conclusion

Once you’ve mentioned your point about why you disagree, you can then close it with a conclusion.

Just like in an essay, it is important to drive your point to a good conclusion.

You can use the phrase “So while I get your point, I think…”, to begin your ending.

Roleplays

Lindsay and Michelle do two roleplays using the steps mentioned above.

This is for you to easily understand clearly how to practice these steps yourself.

Here is the first roleplay.

Lindsay just gave her opinion on travel.

She thinks it is a waste of time.

Lindsay: So yeah, I just don’t think it’s worth the time or money.

Michelle: Interesting point. I see it a little differently. I’ve always thought about it like this. Travel teaches us about the world and makes us better global citizens. So while I get your point, I think it’s totally worth it.

Lindsay: Yeah that makes sense too.

This is the second roleplay.

Michelle just told Lindsay she doesn’t think the company needs to focus on marketing as much.

Michelle: So it just seems like we could put our efforts somewhere else.

Lindsay: Hmm… I’m not sure I completely agree. In my experience, marketing is ALWAYS worth it! It’s helped me so much with my business experience and client retention. So while I get your point, I do think it’s worth our energy and resources.

Takeaway

The main takeaway in this episode is to not be hesitant to speak up when you don’t agree.

It keeps things interesting and gives you an opportunity to learn about others’ points of view.

There are many ways to share your difference in opinion respectfully and professionally.

Listen in on the previous episodes that are available in All Ears English and learn more on how to be confident when disagreeing in English.

Make sure to keep practicing and apply the three-step system to disagree in English.

Lindsay doesn’t want you to be a yes man.

Being a yes man means always being agreeable.

This will not be helpful for your career and even in making personal connections.

So go ahead and let others know if you disagree.

It brings value to your work and peers and of course, makes the conversation more interesting.

What are the topics you mostly disagree about?

Let us know in the comments below and let’s start a healthy discourse.

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