Disagree at a Meeting

English for Meetings: Disagreeing

Disagreeing Strongly

Disagreeing in a meeting can be like walking through a minefield.  In an English meeting you might find yourself often saying ‘no’, or ‘I disagree’.  This language is strong and final, and has its function and place. Here are a few more examples of how to disagree strongly

  • I totally disagree
  • I couldn’t agree less
  • It’s not possible
  • You’re quite wrong
  • I can’t see that idea working
  • This option isn’t feasible
  • It’s just not suitable at this time
  • It will be very difficult to implement

Disagreeing using ‘but’

If you use a more cooperative approach and are trying to move together towards a mutually agreed decision, you can try softer language.  In the section on Agreeing in meetings, the following language was introduced.  It offers the advantage in combining your ‘no’ with a ‘yes’

  • I see what you mean, (but)
  • I see your point, (but)
  • I can see what you’re getting at, (but)
  • I see where you’re coming from, (but)
  • I hear you, (but)
  • I know what you’re talking about, (but)
  • I’m not against it , (but)
  • You have a point, (but)

Disagreeing using questions

It is also possible to say ‘no’ in a meeting without ever saying the word ‘no’.  You can show that you disagree but simply asking a question.

  • Are you sure about that point?
  • What’s the evidence to support that idea?
  • Is that really true in this case?
  • Won’t that idea put us even further behind schedule?
  • Have you considered … ?
  • What about …?

Example Dialogue:

Tim:     We could cut costs by reducing our R&D budget
Donna:Are you sure about that? Reducing R&D could destroy our competitive advantage in the long term.
Tim:I see where you’re coming from, but our new strategy as a low cost producer requires less focus on R&D
John:I can’t see that idea working.  The R&D budget has already been cut substantially.
Donna:Cutting the R&D budget is just not feasible at this time.

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