How to get out of any argument or disagreement with your boss

How to get out of any argument or disagreement with your boss, manager and colleagues



One of the most common asked questions I receive is how to get out of an argument or disagreement with a manger or boss. I agree this can be a tricky situation as you can automatically feel accused and respond with a defensive answer which often leads to a disagreement with your manger.

What you need to learn is how to turn the accusation back on itself in one simple line.

How to get Out of General Disagreements


This simple NLP technique will not only get you out of a disagreement but will make you look good in the process by making your manager respond to your questions. First let’s look at what causes disagreements:


Generally your manager or boss will accuse you of something without knowing all the facts, which leads to a general accusation “everyone feels you are not pulling your weight” when feeling accused, we will often defend ourselves which makes us look guilty “but, I work really hard” after a few exchanges, with you the employee feeling more and more defensive this accusation has turned into a full blown argument


When accused by your manger and they use a “general” statement, don’t get defensive, get specific and get the details, this way the manger has to give you evidence “who exactly said I’m not pulling my weight?” “well, erm..Tom and Dave” “Ok so, two people said I’m not pulling my weight..” this is a big difference then the original – everyone “and which task did I not pull my weight on?” “erm, I’m not sure really…” now the manger is backed in a corner, while you have remain professional and calm.


How to get out of Accusation


In some cases your manger or boss may say a damaging statement to put you down, in many cases this may be more specific then the “general” example above which means you need a different approach, a different frame.


By re-framing (as we say in NLP) you can put a different and more positive approach on any accusation. My friend recently said to me she felt down after putting on some extra weight after eating too much cake at her child’s birthday party, which I replied with “so, what your saying is the extra cake you ate is a sign that you had fun and were enjoying yourself at your child’s party?”


This technique can be easily used with your boss, when given a damaging statement in an appraisal, meeting, promotional job interview or just in the office or on the shop floor.  It doesn’t matter what you are accused off, it’s how you respond and reframe the question that is important


Let’s look at these recent real life examples from my career coaching clients and the responses they used


  • Promotional Interview “you’re not very creative” Interviewee Response “so, what you’re saying if I show you a creative suggestion you will be interested?”
  • Negative Manager “why do you never understand what I mean?” Employee “so, what you mean is, if I summaries what you have asked me to do after each instruction, you will know that I understand you”
  • Negative colleague “why are you always late?” you “are you asking what has happened in my private life, to make me late for the past few days?”

By turning the question around and getting specific means your manager has to agree or answer your question; with the first question (creative) the interviewer can only agree with you or look stupid. The second question (negative manager) here you have changed the question, its no longer about you not understanding it is about you confirming your understanding and the third example, the negative colleague (lateness) the rude colleague will first feel embarrassed but the conversation has moved from you being late to the reason why, which you can reply with “I cant talk about it now, but I might discuss it with you later” this final line, stops the colleague asking any more probing questions.

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4 thoughts on “How to get out of any argument or disagreement with your boss

  1. My boss convinced his boss(the big boss) that I do not communicate enough, just to make me look bad. How do I tackle this issue?

  2. Hi and thank you for your comment.

    First you need to decide do you want to change your boss or the big bosses opinion of you?

    Depending on the situation you need to reframe the situation. If this is just a general statement you can reply with “I agree I’m not a big talker in the office, I’m the type of person who get’s my head down so I can complete my work on time – I know you said in my appraisal that you were impressed that I ‘m one of the few people who continues to meet all the deadlines”

    If your boss is saying you’re not communicating in a particular meeting as an example, again you need to put a positive spin on this “I didn’t speak out in the meeting, as I first like to take all the information in before I come to a conclusion, after considering what was said in the meeting I run the figures and came up with XXXX”

    The idea here is you take what is negatively being said about you and turn it around so what you did (not communicating) was for a positive reason.

    As the exam on the blog states, you can also ask for detail “in which situation did I not communicate?” this way the boss has to give you real life examples that you can positively challenge

    Hope this helps

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