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Decide whether to wait

You may decide to hold off voicing your opinion if you want to gather your army first. People can contribute experience or information to your thinking — all the things that would make the disagreement stronger or more valid. 

Also, delay the conversation if you’re in a meeting or other public space. Discussing the issue in private will make the powerful person feel less threatened.

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Emphasize that you’re offering your opinion, not gospel truth. Remind the person that this is your point of view, and then invite critique. This will leave room for dialogue.

Our natural bias is to start by imagining all the things that will go horribly wrong if we disagree with someone more powerful. Yes, your counterpart might be a little upset at first, but most likely you are not going to get fired or make a lifelong enemy.

When your body language communicates reluctance or anxiety, it undercuts the message. 

It’s a smart way to give the powerful person “psychological safety” and control. 

Before you share your thoughts, think about what the powerful person cares about. You’re more likely to be heard if you can connect your disagreement to a “higher purpose.” 

When you move on to expressing your concerns, watch your language carefully. Avoid any judgment words that might set off your counterpart. Share only facts.

Articulate the other person’s point of view. 

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