It takes courage to disagree with someone senior to you, but doing it is an important skill, especially if you don’t want the leaders in your organization to think of you as a doormat with nothing to contribute. You want to voice your opinion in a way that will gain respect — not get your head handed to you. So check yourself before you speak up. First, don’t just blurt out your point of view; think it through. Why do you disagree? Could your disagreement be perceived as political? Or do you have the good of the organization at heart? You are more likely to be believed if you don’t have anything to gain from your perspective. Second, make sure you have all the relevant facts. Senior people usually have access to more information than the people below them. Is there something you might be missing? Third, bounce your point of view off of a few trusted peers. If you can’t convince them, you’re probably not going to convince the senior leaders, so ask for their feedback on how to be persuasive. Be careful that you don’t only ask your direct reports: They might be just as hesitant to disagree with someone above them.
Adapted from “6 Ways to Disagree with Senior Management,” by Priscilla Claman