Following the recent General Election and last year’s Brexit referendum, it’s not unusual to encounter people who disagree with us. How we deal with disagreement is important. And just as our politicians are being urged to consult more widely, we too need to think carefully about our own position and genuinely seek to understand the views of others, when faced with opposition. Our ‘One to Watch’ video for June illustrates how to use disagreement in the workplace as a force for good instead of the cause of division.
There is a natural tendency to ‘rubbish’ opinions and views that don’t chime with your own. It’s much easier to dismiss someone’s opposition to your ideas as being unfounded and without merit, than it is to engage with them. But two heads really are often better than one. And being challenged is a great way to sharpen your thinking and to review your own standpoint. Keeping an open mind and being accepting of other people’s views means sometimes having to change your mind if you are persuaded by an alternative view. Sometimes you will decide to stick with your original position but you can only do that with credibility if you have seriously challenged your own thoughts and asked yourself if the other person’s argument might be stronger and more convincing than your own.
In the workplace, colleagues don’t always agree. But the best outcome is arrived at only when all the arguments have been aired and all possibilities considered, as objectively as possible. What is important is that everyone gives each other the courtesy of being heard and that the merits of each approach are considered carefully. Only then can a reasoned, best course of action be agreed.
Of course, that’s not to assume that everyone will end up agreeing and there will be complete harmony. But competing views will have been heard and weighed up and the final decision maker or arbiter (who bears the ultimate responsibility for the outcome), will benefit from exploring a range of views and opinions.
Handled badly, disagreement can lead to argument, conflict and stalemate. Handled well, it can lead to better decision making and certainly better understanding.
In our short video, What To Say When Someone Disagrees With You, viewers learn the benefits of embracing disagreement as an opportunity. By asking yourself why someone doesn’t take the same view of things as you do, you can learn a lot about your own position, as well as theirs. Maybe your colleague can see a flaw in your argument that you haven’t spotted yourself; or maybe they have Machiavellian reasons for opposing you. But getting to the root of their reason for disagreeing with you is always helpful. And you need to do this carefully, without rancour and by asking open questions. They may well want to take a critical approach but you need to avoid arguing back and instead ask them to explain their point of view. You must listen carefully to what they say. Then, and only then, can you decide whether you need to revise your own position.
So, what exactly do you say the next time a colleague disagrees with you? Watch our video What To Say When Someone Disagrees With You to find out. It takes just three and a half minutes.
About WATCH & GO videos
WATCH & GO® videos show people how to perform better at work by illustrating practical phrases and key behaviours in just three or four minutes. There are around 60 titles, each dealing with a different management topic or ‘tricky’ situation. Learners simply ‘watch’ and ‘go’ to manage everyday situations at work.
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