How to Disagree with People, Elegantly

You know how often today you can feel a little scared to speak up with an opinion so out of step with “the group?” Especially on questions relating to sex, religion or politics, women who differ from what seems to be the “socially acceptable” stance often feel scared to speak out. As a veteran of the “I-think-I’m-in-the-minority-here” thing, maybe I can help!

4 Steps to Expressing Disagreement

  • Change your expectations – first, remember to keep your expectations moderate. If facts were the answer, we’d have won by now! The best you can likely do in conversation is to help another person question their presumptions.
  • Maintain graciousness – First confirm what is true in another speaker’s position. This is taking a page from WSFT Communications Director’s advice on speaking about politics. It softens hearts and soothes feelings in advance.
  • Transition ClearlyChoose your transition phrase so as to express disagreement, incite interest and portend that the facts are on your side. I keep several useful ones on hand:
    • “I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that…”
    • “I have seen some convincing evidence otherwise…”
    • “I know that’s what the papers say, but solid research indicates…”
      • (Expert tip: when you open like this…even if another person interrupts you, one or more other listeners are waiting for your reply. So trail off, let the other person finish, and then all will want to hear from you, because of what your set-up line promised.)
  • The Big Finish – Communicate the facts/truth accurately and without exaggeration.
    • “Everyone expected cohabitation to strengthen marriage, but there’s really no scientific disagreement that it’s had the opposite effect.”
    • “Sure, it seems logical that more contraception should drive down rates of abortion and single motherhood; but it hasn’t. Instead, those numbers have skyrocketed, because of the way contraception and then legal abortion tilted the playing field against women when it comes to dating and marriage.”
      • (Expert tip: offer to send the listener the data by email. Go to and use one of our talking points or fact sheets!)

So go on out there and be CONFIDENT! You have EVERY reason!

Photo Credit: Flickr/ x1klima





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