Does your company encourage healthy debate among its employees? If not, it should!

Encouraging your employees to share their ideas, perspectives, and input is essential for innovation. Creating a psychologically safe space to respectfully disagree with others helps move the business forward.

Supporting respectful debates leads to more effective approaches to problem-solving. The results include higher employee engagement, more effective business operations, and a stronger bottom line.

Implement these tips to disagree with poise at work.

Determine the Source of the Disagreement

Ensure you understand exactly what you disagree with and why. Examples include goals, values, facts, opinions, and preferences:

  • Consider the underlying assumptions, expectations, and emotions that are impacting your perspective.
  • Include how important the issue is for you and the other person.
  • Use this information to avoid making assumptions, jumping to conclusions, or personalizing the disagreement.

Choose a Time to Discuss the Disagreement

Find an appropriate time and place to respectfully discuss the issue:

  • Choose a comfortable, private space to talk about the issue.
  • Ask the individual if you can privately talk about the disagreement at the suggested time and location.
  • Include how long you believe the discussion should take.

Use Positive Language

Choose clear, factual, professional language to discuss the disagreement:

  • Show that you want to resolve the issue and reach a compromise.
  • Focusing on a solution that benefits everyone shows you are a team player.

Actively Listen

Pay close attention to what the other person is saying:

  • Ask follow-up questions from a place of curiosity to gather more information.
  • Restate what you hear to check your understanding.
  • Remain empathetic throughout the conversation.
  • Focus on understanding where the other person is coming from, their motivations and challenges, and how they feel about the issue.
  • Demonstrate your willingness to learn and find common ground.

Focus on a Solution

Discuss ideas to resolve the issue:

  • Include the pros and cons of each option.
  • Create an action plan.
  • Remain flexible and creative while looking for outcomes that benefit everyone’s needs and interests.
  • Remember, sometimes you will have to agree to disagree.
  • Be united once a solution is identified and agreed upon.

Follow Up

Set a time to follow up and evaluate the results:

  • Restate the agreed-on solution and who is responsible for each action step.
  • Implement the steps and monitor the progress and outcomes.
  • Provide and implement constructive feedback to make adjustments as needed.
  • Reflect on what you learned from the experience.
  • Use your experience to improve how you disagree with others going forward.

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