The best way to choose your words when you need to push back is to clearly know what you need to say and then say it to the other person the way you would like it said to you. It’s a big differentiator for you to pause, consider if you were in that person’s Cole Haans how you would like to be talked to, and then weigh your words and harness your tone of voice, facial expression, and comportment.
Use an even tone of voice, square your shoulders, look ’em in the eye, and give a comfortable smile.
Negative response need not be given in a negative way: “You were right on target when you said . . . and to follow your lead, I did some research on my own that you’ll want to see as we define and refine our position,” will be better received than, “You’re wrong. I don’t know how you came up with that, but I found out the truth, and it’s totally different from what you said. The only way it can go is . . . . It’s stupid any other way.”
Instead of just being good at following your managers ideas and directions, have your own that you contribute. Give valid reasons for your recommendations. Have knowledge and information that out-details and out-facts them. Clearly put your evaluation, opinion, and options out there with candor, directness, objectivity, and respect.
Debra Benton and Kylie Wright-Ford, co-authors of The Leadership Mind Switch (McGraw-Hill, 2017)