3 Ways to Disagree With Someone (Only One Way is Recommended)
In disagreeing, be specific, targeted, focused and also positive.
Tim Harford has been called “Britain’s Malcolm Gladwell.” He is the well-known “Undercover Economist” for the Financial Times. His new book is called "ADAPT: Why Success Always Starts with Failure."
Let’s say you try to disagree with somebody. I think there are three ways to do it and two of them are not great. So the first way is just to be negative: "Hey, you’re wrong, you’re an idiot, it’s a bad idea”. Even if you don’t actually call somebody an idiot that is the message they will receive if the criticism is phrased in a negative way and that is rarely going to help get the results you want.
The second way you can do it is very common and something I call a "praise sandwich," saying, "Hey, your work is great, it’s wonderful, it’s excellent," and then you get to the criticism. And after you’ve given the criticism there is another larger praise. So the trouble with the praise sandwich is once people receive criticism and it’s sandwiched between all this praise, they can ignore the criticism completely. They can say "Well, so what you’re saying is basically things are fine."
The third, and much more positive way of doing things, called "plusing, is just to be very direct, but positive in the way that you phrase your criticism, such as "Hey, wouldn’t it be better if we did this, wouldn’t it be better if you changed this, isn’t this a good idea?" It doesn’t really matter whether the work as it exists is good or bad. Can it be made better? So be specific, targeted, focused and also positive.
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