Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

One of our listeners asked us how to disagree politely with your boss in English

This is a great business English topic and a great question.

When we talk about how to disagree in English, we always need to consider culture.

It’s not just the country culture that we’re in but what about company culture?

Some businesses have an open culture and you can feel comfortable disagreeing but other companies are much more serious and you can’t disagree with someone above you.

Regardless of where we work, we need to be able to speak up and defend our point if we disagree with what’s happening at work.

Phrases to politely disagree with your boss:

  • “I have to disagree.” This sounds a bit less confrontational because we’re taking one step back from saying “I disagree.”
  • “Can I share my opinion?” This would be a softer way to get into this conversation
  • “I have a slightly different perspective.” When we add “slightly” to this we are taking one more step back, making it more indirect
  • “Actually, I can’t completely disagree.” In this phrase using “actually” softens the phrase.
  • “I need to respectfully disagree”
  • “I’m not on board with that” or “I can’t get on board with that”: To be on board with something means that you are agreeing to participate and that you approve of it.

Listen to the conversation between Lindsay and Michelle so that you can hear these phrases being used in a real situation.

What do you think about these phrases?

Have you tried them? How did they work for you?

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