How to disagree without being disagreeable…

Posted: 21 September 2017 at 9:00 am | Author: Alison German

Having disagreements with co-workers is a common part of working life. Heated debates are inevitable when you have many different voices at the table, who each look at the world from a different perspective.

But having a disagreement with someone is no excuse to abandon politeness and respect. Refusing to look at something from another person’s perspective and talk through disagreements respectfully will hinder team morale and be a barrier to productivity. Keep these tips in mind next time you’re feeling the heat in a team meeting, and keep the peace at work!

Ask questions

Rather than dismissing ideas you disagree with straight away, be curious and ask questions to understand the other person’s thinking process in more detail. The best way to discover the flaws behind an idea is to ask questions. Not only is it a more productive use of your time than shouting at each other, but it will improve the idea itself if you later find that it is workable.

Talk through the other person’s perspective

A common frustration that comes from disagreeing with someone is that your point of view is not being understood. Taking the time to explain what it is about an idea, opinion or proposal you take issue with, not only, eliminates this problem, but signals that you are giving the idea the consideration it deserves.

Invite critique of your own ideas

Don’t give the impression your answer is the only answer, position it as an option to be considered the same as everyone else’s. Quite simply, you shouldn’t be giving criticism if you’re unable to take it back! Putting your own ideas up to scrutiny will show openness and objectivity, and ensure that everyone’s voices are being heard.

Confidence is key, master your poker face

If you are confident in your point of view, now is not the time for meekness. Avoid hedging phrases such as ‘I’m not sure about that’ Limp phrases will give the impression you do not have confidence in your position, making it easier for it to be dismissed before you have the chance to make your case. Also – think body language and facial expression! Confidence is complemented by open body language. Having an open posture and cultivating a diplomatic poker face will help you come across as professional and objective.

Buy time

Ideas do not need to be responded to immediately. It is perfectly acceptable to take time to think through what has been pitched to you. Over time you might find credit in the other person’s arguments, or come up with a stronger alternative to defend your point of view. Either way, it makes for a more productive discussion.

Take note of your tone

It can be easy to let your tone run away with you in the heat of the moment, but the way in which you communicate your point of view makes a big difference as to how you will be received, and often your tone will be mirrored by other people. You should avoid accusatory tones, and only raise your voice if you feel you need to stress your point. Avoid reducing a disagreement into a game of insults and personal attacks, as this will only leave everyone feeling drained and undervalued.

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