GCAS Strategies 26 Problem-solving: Responding politely

People talking at a conference table
Respond politely in meetings

In this lesson, we will start learning how to politely respond to disagreements. 

Introduction: 

How would you respond to disagreement?

You: I think everyone in our company should get training for at least 1 hour every week. 
Your colleague: Wouldn't that be too expensive?
You: [Disagree with person B.]

Warm Up: 
  1. Did you find it easy to disagree in the above conversation? Why or why not?
  2. Some people say that English is a direct language. Is that true? 
Language: 

A. Start indirectly.

In GCAS 13, we talked about disagreeing indirectly. What do you remember about how to start indirectly?

    Role-play the following conversation. Your teacher will play the part of your colleague.

    You: I think everyone in our company should get training for at least 1 hour every week. 
    Your colleague: Everyone?! Don't you think some employees don't need training?
    You: [Respond]

    B. Focus on core ideas, not minor details.

    First, agree on fundamentals. Then work out the details. 

    • The main thing is that...
    • The most important thing is...

    Role-play the following conversation. Your teacher will play the part of your colleague.

    You: I think everyone in our company should get training for at least 1 hour every week. 
    Your colleague: How would we hire the right training company?
    You: [Respond]

    C. Stay on the same team.

    Inclusive language is a negotiation tactic to reduce tension and encourage teamwork.

    Rather than "I" and "you", use inclusive language such as "we", "us", and "let's".

     

    Too direct Inclusive
    You are wrong...

    As far as we know, that’s not quite right...
    Let's look at it this way...

    Like I said... Going back to what we said...
    Didn't someone mention... ?
    Do you understand me? Does that sound right?
    Does that make sense?

     

    Role-play the following conversation. Your teacher will play the part of your colleague.

    You: I think everyone in our company should get training for at least 1 hour every week. 
    Your colleague: Yes, we've been looking into this, but what we've found so far is that everyone's just too busy for training.
    You: [Respond]

    Practice: 

    Here is a GCAS Part 3 style question.

    Your company is a wine importer. But recently, local wine in your country has been increasing in quality for the same low price. It's getting harder to sell imported wine due to local competition. An executive wants to hear your ideas to save the company.

    Theme Idea Details
    Increase marketing Show that imported wine is a luxury product. Spend money on new packaging that emphasizes luxury. 
    Shift to domestic Use your company's logistics to distribute high quality local wine.

    Find local producers you can partner with to distribute their product.

    Import other products Bring products that don't have local competition. Import fine meats and cheeses from international producers.