Before You Say Anything...
- Make sure that you double-check your findings and have one or more sources handy that back up your reasoning.
- Don't bring it up in any manner whatsoever if you're angry. Just like you can hear when someone is smiling while they're talking, you can typically tell the general mood of something written if you're open to it. Be careful not to let your own perception/mood color your impression too much, though.
- Realize that you can't control the editor's mood when they receive your email or comments. If their perception is negative at all, they will likely feel that they need to regroup before they respond, too. If they're a professional, they'll do exactly that and avoid responding hastily.
- How important is it to you that this goes your way? Pick your battles wisely. Does your editor seem pretty attached to their method while you're kind of detached either way? If that's the case, you might consider conceding to your editor simply to avoid unnecessary complications.
5 Ways to Gracefully Disagree with Your Editor (or Anyone Else)
With that in mind, here are five techniques for disagreeing gracefully.
1. Use the "critique sandwich" technique. If you're bringing this up in a comment in the margin of your Word document (which I highly recommend), then a very simple comment will do perfectly. Find something to compliment, bring up your question or problem, then close with another compliment. This softens most people up enough to take the negative without overreacting.
2. Plant a seed of doubt. Most people don't like to have their flaws pointed out blatantly and then be told how to fix them, so that leaves us no choice but to learn basic manipulation skills. Simply asking, "Is this correct? I always thought this other way was correct," can spark your editor to double-check their knowledge because they want to be absolutely certain they're making the right corrections.
3. Be respectful and straight forward. When you choose to go this route, remember that two-dimensional text communication can come across in ways that were not intended, so if you don't want to come across as overly harsh, you may consider using a smiley or two ;). I have done this for years because I've witnessed more than my fair share of miscommunications through the written word. For a pretty great example, check out this fun and hilarious skit by Key & Peele:
5. Remember that your editor is a professional. If you haven't done your research but bring up an issue, your editor will know within minutes once they Google it. Not only will this communicate that you don't respect their work enough to put in two minutes of research yourself, it will also lower their respect for you, making the entire experience... well, not so great for anybody.
No matter how you end up bringing up issues, problems, or questions, just remember to be respectful and considerate of your editor's time, especially if you got a deal on pricing. Editing is a tedious, time-consuming, and brain-intensive job, so the less an editor charges, the more hours they're essentially putting in for free.
Pick your battles wisely and be respectful and considerate. Those are the main things to remember, and you should be just fine! Your work deserves the best, too, so don't be afraid of speaking up. Your editor might even learn a few things from you, and if you have a good one, that will be their attitude... and they will have learned to embrace this process already ;).