What to do when you disagree with your PI

There was a nice thread at X (former Twitter) about interview questions and how to respond. Here are three  question that are answered by Aakash Gupta along with ChatGPT responses.


How would you handle a situation where you strongly disagree with the higher-ups’ decision?

  1. I tried to understand their point of view
  2. Then I weighed everything on first principles
  3. I spoke up once more
  4. But ultimately disagreed & committed

As an AI language model, I don’t have personal feelings or opinions, but I can provide you with some advice on how to handle a situation where you strongly disagree with higher-ups’ decisions:

  1. Remain calm and composed: It’s essential to keep your emotions in check when expressing disagreement. Approach the situation with a professional and respectful demeanor.
  2. Understand the rationale: Take the time to understand the reasoning behind the decision. There might be factors or information that you are not aware of, which could influence their choice.
  3. Gather evidence and prepare your argument: If you still believe the decision is not the best course of action, collect data and evidence that support your viewpoint. Having a well-reasoned argument will help you present your case effectively.
  4. Choose an appropriate time and place: Find a suitable moment to discuss your concerns with the higher-ups. Avoid doing so in public or during high-stress situations.
  5. Be open to discussion: Be receptive to their perspective as well. A constructive dialogue can lead to better understanding and, potentially, a more acceptable resolution.
  6. Propose alternative solutions: Instead of just pointing out the problems, suggest alternative approaches that you believe might yield better results.
  7. Consider escalation: If the decision impacts the company’s values, ethics, or legality, and you can’t find common ground, consider escalating the matter through proper channels within the organization.
  8. Accept the decision gracefully (if necessary): In some cases, despite your efforts, the higher-ups may still proceed with their decision. It’s essential to respect their authority and demonstrate professionalism by accepting the outcome gracefully.
  9. Focus on the bigger picture: Remember that organizations function as a team, and decisions may be made based on broader considerations. While you may disagree with a specific decision, maintaining a positive attitude and focusing on the organization’s overall success is crucial.
  10. Learn from the experience: Use the situation as an opportunity for growth. Reflect on how you handled the disagreement and consider what you can do differently in the future.

Ultimately, how you handle the situation will depend on the specific circumstances and your organization’s culture. Always prioritize maintaining a respectful and professional demeanor, even when expressing strong disagreement.


How would you react if a project you championed was suddenly shelved?

  1. One example was when I took time to think it over myself
  2. Then I consoled affected team members
  3. Then I brought it back up when it was strategically important again 6 months later

As an AI language model, I don’t have emotions or personal experiences, but I can provide a suggested approach on how someone might react if a project they championed was suddenly shelved:

  1. Give yourself time to process: It’s natural to feel a range of emotions when a project you were passionate about gets shelved. Take some time to process your feelings and avoid making impulsive decisions or reactions.
  2. Seek feedback and understanding: Reach out to the decision-makers or stakeholders involved to understand the reasons behind the shelving of the project. Seek feedback on what led to the decision and whether there’s a possibility of revisiting it in the future.
  3. Focus on the rationale: Try to objectively assess the reasons for shelving the project. Was it due to budget constraints, shifting priorities, lack of resources, or other valid reasons? Understanding the rationale can provide insights for future projects.
  4. Review the project’s strengths and weaknesses: Take an honest look at the project’s strengths and weaknesses. Analyze whether there were any aspects that could have been improved or adjusted, even if the project had continued.
  5. Be open to learning: Look at this experience as an opportunity for growth and learning. Consider what you can take away from the project’s journey to apply to future initiatives.
  6. Stay professional and positive: While it’s okay to feel disappointed, maintain a professional and positive attitude. Avoid being overly critical or expressing negativity, as it may not be conducive to your professional image.
  7. Stay engaged with the team: If the project involved a team effort, continue to support and engage with your colleagues. Acknowledge their efforts and reinforce the positive aspects of working together.
  8. Discuss potential alternatives: If you believe there are ways to salvage parts of the project or pivot its direction, consider discussing potential alternatives with the decision-makers or stakeholders.
  9. Channel your passion into other projects: Redirect your enthusiasm and energy toward other initiatives or projects that align with the organization’s current priorities.
  10. Focus on long-term goals: Keep your long-term career goals in mind and remember that this setback does not define your abilities or contributions. Use the experience to fuel your determination for future endeavors.

Remember that setbacks are a part of professional life, and how you handle them can make a significant difference in your growth and development. Stay resilient and open to new opportunities that may arise in the future.


Describe a time when you had to persuade a team member who disagreed to adopt your approach. How did you handle it?

  1. This happened recently
  2. I made sure they felt heard
  3. I also addressed their concerns
  4. Then I re-emphasized the data
  5. This helped them come along

As an AI language model, I don’t have personal experiences, but I can provide a hypothetical example of how someone might handle persuading a team member who disagreed with their approach:

Scenario: Let’s say I’m a project manager working on a software development project. We are deciding between two different development methodologies – Agile and Waterfall. One of my team members strongly believes in using the Waterfall approach, while I advocate for Agile.

Active listening: To begin, I would ensure that I actively listen to my team member’s perspective. I want to understand their reasoning and concerns fully. This demonstrates respect for their viewpoint and helps me tailor my arguments accordingly.

Identify common ground: During the discussion, I would try to find areas of agreement between us. This helps build rapport and demonstrates that we are working toward the same goals, even if we have different approaches.

Present evidence and benefits: I would present data, case studies, or success stories from other projects that have used the Agile approach. I would highlight the benefits of Agile in terms of adaptability, collaboration, and quicker feedback cycles.

Address concerns: I would address any specific concerns my team member has about Agile. This may involve providing solutions to potential challenges or explaining how Agile can address those concerns effectively.

Highlight team members’ strengths: I would emphasize how Agile can play to the strengths of our team members, encouraging their active participation and promoting a sense of ownership over the project’s success.

Pilot or trial period: If my team member is still hesitant, I might suggest a pilot project where we can try out Agile for a limited scope. This allows us to gain practical experience and gather real data to evaluate its effectiveness.

Involve the team in decision-making: I would involve the entire team in the decision-making process to ensure their voices are heard. Their input can help build consensus and create a sense of ownership over the chosen approach.

Seek support from other team members: If there are other team members who support the Agile approach, I would encourage them to share their positive experiences and perspectives with the team member who disagrees.

Be open to compromise: While advocating for Agile, I would also remain open to elements of Waterfall that may be beneficial or necessary for certain aspects of the project. A balanced approach may be more suitable in some cases.

Monitor progress and feedback: After adopting Agile, I would closely monitor the project’s progress and gather feedback from the team. This data can be used to assess the effectiveness of the chosen approach and make further adjustments if needed.

Throughout the process, it’s crucial to maintain a collaborative and respectful tone, ensuring that the team member feels valued and heard, even if their perspective ultimately differs from mine. The goal is to foster a healthy and constructive team dynamic to achieve project success.

Looks like ChatGPT has ingested several US psychology life guides – so the market of these books will be declining.