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Discover practical strategies for resolving disagreements and find common ground to move forward.
We are social creatures and, inevitably, disagreements are part of both our professional and personal lives. Unfortunately, these disagreements often lead to rifts in relationships.
Disagreements don't have to be harsh. It is possible for us to disagree gracefully. Good leaders and managers practice the art of graceful disagreement and you can learn it too.
When you face a potential disagreement, consider the following, especially in a professional setting:
Clarity - Clearly identify the topic of disagreement. Clarify it. Understand what you are disagreeing on. Always keep the focus on finding the truth.
Curiosity - Understand the "why"? Ask yourself why there is disagreement. Why does the other person believe what they are saying? Reason it out.
Facts - Gather facts to form the basis of your discussions. Uncover the facts collaboratively. Be aware of any potential bias.
Open - Be open and acknowledge the fact that it is ok for the other person to disagree with you. It is not personal.
Respect - Try and take turns to put your points forward. Remember to be respectful.
Company first - Within a team, it is always the organization's goals that matter. Even if you disagree, you must align with the company's objectives.
Attentive - Listen with intent. Don’t listen only to respond. Listen to know.
Observant - Disagreements can evoke strong emotions. However, it's important to take a step back, assess the situation objectively, and respond in an appropriate manner. Keep in mind that disagreements are not personal, and your life does not hinge on the outcome of any one disagreement.
Reflect - Sometimes disagreements linger, even after an agreement has been reached. Whenever I have faced disagreements, I have reflected on it by writing it down. It allows me to gain an objective perspective.
What we are trying to do here is to establish a system of disagreement. Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, talks about his system in his fantastic book, Principles, in the section - Appreciate the art of thoughtful disagreement. The book is freely available as an app for your phones and tablets. It is titled Principles In Action and I recommend having it accessible as a reference.
Disagreements can also lead to arguments and unfortunately, they are not constructive. I always keep this quote from Haruki Murakami in my mind:
“Always remember that to argue, and win, is to break down the reality of the person you are arguing against . It is painful to lose your reality, so be kind, even if you are right.”
We all know we can’t avoid disagreements, but now we know that we can be graceful about it.
I would love to hear your feedback. Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!
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