top of page

How to have an emotionally intelligent disagreement

Disagreeing respectfully appears to have become a lost art yet is key to being an assertive and compassionate leader. People either become aggressive or avoid difficult conversations. This can lead to mistrust, resentment and low self-esteem.

When you have sincere conversations it creates a climate of trust, authenticity and integrity. It encourages your team to have more honest relationships with each other.

Top Tips on how to have emotionally intelligent disagreements

1. Listen This is an underrated yet often over-inflated skill by many. I have written about listening in the blogs below.

Many people feel they need to bulldoze their thoughts and ideas on to others. Just listening to others thoughts and opinions

makes people feel heard. It makes them feel you are not a dictator but are considering their viewpoint. They will feel less frustrated if you disagree politely after listening. Who knows, maybe they have a good point? But you'll never know unless you listen!

2. Empathy

An empathetic leader makes an effort to understand their team members' situations and what they are going through, in order to offer support and help.

Empathetic leaders are self-aware, demonstrate self-control, and are highly effective communicators. They show vulnerability, kindness and compassion. Workers who have an empathetic leader feel supported, cared for and trusted.

Some of us are naturally empathetic. If anything we need support to be less people pleasers and to look after ourselves more. But Empathy can also be learnt, like a muscle that can be trained to get stronger. As Tim Minchin says:

"Empathy is intuitive, but is also something you can work on, intellectually."

In both my Assertive Leadership & Emotionally Intelligent Leader courses I support you to read different personalities using the TypeCoach personality profiling approach which is based on Myers Briggs. Through this you will gain an insight in to why there are certain personality clashes between colleagues and how to get the best out of your team.

3. Emotional regulation

Clause Steiner coined the term "Emotional Literacy" in 1997 and he breaks the idea down into 5 parts:

🔹Knowing your feelings.

🔹Having a sense of empathy.

🔹Learning to manage our emotions.

🔹Repairing emotional problems.

🔹Putting it all together: emotional interactivity.

Working on your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can make a difference to you and your colleagues.

Sometimes when we’re struggling, unless we practice self-awareness, our emotions can get the best of us.

Take this moment right now to pull your shoulders away from your ears. Take a big deep belly breath and release the tension from your body. Notice if you’re clenching your jaw too. It's time to let go.

Emotional regulation is a core part of my Assertive Leadership and The Emotionally Intelligent Leader courses. Without recognising our emotions and triggers, we will struggle to not only take care of ourselves but also our teams.

Two blogs I've written around emotional literacy & editing:

Putting a pause between and emotional trigger and your response is the best way to manage your emotional expression. Your mother may have warned you to

If they’re angry, be a witness to their anger—don’t take it on.

Make time to process. In the heat of a difficult conversation, most of us have said things we later regret. Let the person who is venting have their say. Don’t react with blame or excuses or rejoinders. Instead, slow down the process by responding, “It’s important that I understand what you just said, so I’m going to take time to digest it all and I will get back to you soon.” Giving yourself time to process your emotions will help make your feelings less intense. Lolly Daskall

4. Be Assertive

I used to believe that honesty was the best policy. I still do but there is a caveat. Diplomacy is better. You can say what you feel without being brutal. You can stand up for yourself and disagree respectfully without being aggressive. Most people believe they are being assertive when in fact they are being hostile and bellicose.

Using these strategies helps to soften the disagreement and make your position or argument more effective.

  • I see what you’re saying but I think…

  • I respect your point but from my perspective (or but in my opinion)…

  • True, that is a fair point, but I have to say I disagree…

  • I understand where you are coming from but…

  • I’m not sure I agree with you on…

  • I don’t think you and I have the same opinion on this issue.

  • I’m afraid I disagree.

  • I don’t see it that way.

  • I respectfully disagree.

  • I have a completely different opinion on that.

To effectively argue for your position or opinion, it is best to finish your disagreement by offering an alternative or a suggestion. This is a solution-focused argument and can also soften the disagreement. Here are some great expressions to use after expressing your disagreement:

  • Instead, I think we should/could…

  • My suggestion would be to…

  • An alternative solution might be…

  • I would recommend that we…

  • How about we…

  • What do you think about _______ instead?


Emotionally Intelligent leaders actively listen, are empathetic and are self-aware. They bring people together and are proactive in a crisis rather than reactive.

They are continuously learning knowing they don't have all the answers. They surround themselves with people who will question, challenge and aren't sycophantic followers. Instead they appreciate the need to have a team of diverse thinkers, so don't find a team members strength as a threat.

If you want to grow as a leader join either my Assertive Leadership or the Emotionally Intelligent Leader course. Both courses start in September and are recognised & accredited by the InstituteLM.

Assertive Leadership - The Ultimate Communications Skills Course

The Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Malarvilie Krishnasamy is a Leadership Consultant, Trainer & Coach. Get in touch if you are interested in 1:1 Coaching or Leadership / Coaching training for you and your team.

293 views0 comments


bottom of page