CommunicationIT Best Practices

Why We Should Be Disagreeing More at Work

Too many people feel that saying, “I disagree,” is the same thing as saying, “You’re an idiot. I hate you. Why are you here?” So instead, they just go along with someone else’s faulty logic, like being in the passenger seat with a drunk driver. In this way, the desire to avoid conflict can sometimes explode into much more disastrous situations. That means it is time to change your attitude about disagreeing. Amy Gallo shares many benefits to doing so (and ways to start) in an article for Harvard Business Review.

Set Feelings Aside

First and most obviously, the (cordial) conflict that comes from disagreement can make for better work outcomes. Two heads are better than one when it comes to finding flaws in a plan. And by association, listening to contrasting perspectives will result in one or both of you learning something new and potentially valuable. Best of all, if you and a colleague are capable of talking through disagreements and you both know it, then that makes for a much stronger working relationship.

If you are the type who still prefers to avoid conflict when possible, Gallo offers some advice to help. First, she reminds you that, although it is nice to be liked, being liked is not always the most important thing. There are sometimes bigger stakes at play, and you need to focus on them. And besides, disagreement does not need to be a sign of anger, cruelty, or hostility anyway. In fact, a technique I use myself to deliver criticism (which, to be clear, is separate and more severe than disagreement) is to just smile while I say it. Smiling shows that I am not treating the situation as a catastrophe and that I am just giving a straightforward analysis. But then again, I often smile anyway while talking; if someone who never smiles tries to disagree or deliver criticism while smiling, it might come across as spooky or sadistic.

If you could still use more help in learning to disagree, Gallo recommends finding a role model to emulate:

Chances are there’s someone in your life — a colleague, a relative, or a friend — who does a pretty good job of being direct and honest about their thoughts and opinions without ruffling feathers. Watch that person. See what they do. And then try to emulate them. One of my colleagues recently told me that when she’s in a tense situation, she pretends that she’s an actor who is skilled at dealing with discomfort. She says that lets her observe her behavior from a distance rather than being mired in the rawness of her emotions at the moment. This is in the “fake it until you make it” vein that London Business School’s Herminia Ibarra recommends using. If you’re not good at dealing with tense conversations, try on the persona of someone who is.

You can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2018/01/why-we-should-be-disagreeing-more-at-work

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