What You Say When You Disagree
By Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
When you disagree with someone, finding just the right words to express yourself can mean the difference between having a debate and having a quarrel.
Whatyousay.com is constantly on the lookout for choice expressions to use in this kind of situation. We found a good one in Ken Follet’s “Fall of Giants.”
One of Follet’s characters, the aristocratic Duchess of Sussex, says to a woman she disagrees with: “I am reluctant to contradict someone as well-informed as you…All the same…”
We like this statement very much for a couple of reasons. One, it is polite, in fact, elaborately polite in the style of Edwardian England. But it works today because it begins with an assertion of respect for the other party, which seldom goes awry. Two, it does not use the word “But” to begin the disagreement statement. Experienced conversationalists know to listen for the word “But” after any preamble, such as “I agree with you on most points, But…” or “We have a lot in common, But…” The Duchess of Sussex avoids using the word “But,” in fact softens it a bit by saying, “All the same, we will look it up. My uncle, the duke, has one of the greatest libraries in London.”
Next time you disagree with someone whom you respect, begin by saying “I am reluctant to disagree with someone as well informed as you… All the same…”She is unlikely to break off the relationship if you begin by saying that you respect her highly.
This is also a useful letter-writing template to use when you’re writing a letter to someone whom you like but with whom you there is a point of disagreement.
–Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and consultant. His video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken to hundreds of conventions all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, contact us at 404-256-5927 or email@example.com
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