Entrepreneurs

Council Post: Nine Tips To Politely Disagree With A Colleague (And Keep A Positive Work Relationship)

Disagreements will happen from time to time, regardless of how well a team works together. However, conflicts shouldn’t result in destroyed relationships or grudges. It’s important for professionals to know how to prevent a situation from escalating and get their point across without becoming rude or arrogant in their words and actions.

While resolving disagreements on a positive note can take a bit more work, the end result is a happier relationship and overall workplace. Below, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council examine the best strategies for dealing with disagreements in the office and how these methods can help the conversation move forward.

1. Make Them Feel Seen And Heard

You’re going to come to a disagreement with a colleague at some point, and that’s just part of the human experience. But when communicating those disagreements with another person, it’s crucial to make them feel seen and heard. A lot of the time, a disagreement can remain an amicable conversation when you simply validate the other person’s point of view. This shows that you respect their perspective even though you don’t agree with it. It’s also easier for them to understand your point of view when they know that you’ve heard them out and have listened from every angle. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

2. Try To Stay Impersonal With Facts

It’s possible to convey your disagreement with your partner without ruffling feathers. You need to learn to phrase your feelings well and also focus on facts rather than make personal comments. For example, if you disagree on which supplier to pick and your partner is invested in picking a particular one, acknowledge their feelings. But don’t back down from your opinions either. Saying things like “I’m uncomfortable with…” or “If we look at these numbers…” removes any accusatory tone in your communication. With practice, you can make disagreements impersonal and focus on what’s best for the business as a whole. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

3. Avoid Absolute Statements

If you want to come across amicably, it’s best to qualify everything you say. This reinforces that what you’re arguing for is merely a matter of perspective. In doing this, you make room for your colleague to change their mind. If you present whatever you’re saying as an absolute fact, then you’ll alienate your colleague who will likely become defensive and push back. So, don’t say things like, “That’s not right. Actually, we should do this.” Instead, try qualifying your argument with, “I take your point, but this is how I see it…” If you present your view this way, it minimizes the chances of your colleague becoming defensive and increases the chance that they come to your side. – Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets

4. Approach From A Different Viewpoint

Approaching the situation from a different viewpoint is one way to disagree with a colleague in a polite manner without offending them. Whenever I disagree with someone on my team, I try to be tactful by asking them in a respectful tone to look at the issue or circumstance from my point of view. Then we evaluate each approach to see which one will produce the best outcome. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

5. Pause And Come Back To It Later

One helpful thing to do is to take a pause in the conversation and come back to it later. When you’re in the middle of a disagreement, it’s easy to get excited and block the other person’s viewpoint. It goes the same the other way around. So, taking a break and revisiting the conversation after a day or two can help you think more clearly and offer more rational counterpoints. It also gives you the time to really understand your colleague’s viewpoint and look for compromises. – Blair Williams, MemberPress

6. Make Disagreeing Part Of The Creative Process

For every idea we work on developing in our company, we set a rule of finding at least three counter-reasons why it won’t work. Having a culture that is constantly playing devil’s advocate can disarm the casual disagreements and feel like an organic response as opposed to a clash. We set the expectation that even when something sounds perfect and it’s not easy to find a reason against it, you must still find at least three things that are wrong before it moves forward. In most cases, this is harder than it sounds, but it is an extremely effective way to develop ideas and solutions to problems while also working as a way to mediate real clashes that might normally strike someone as offensive. – Jacob Tanur, Click Play Films

7. Listen To Them Without Interruption First

Disagreements become quarrels when you don’t listen. Even if you disagree with someone, let them speak their mind uninterrupted. Show them by listening that you’re rejecting their idea or point of view, not them. Give them the space to articulate their vision and then, once they’re done talking, you talk. Interruption is the root of all quarrels. It’s disrespectful. – Asim Rais Siddiqui, Tekrevol

8. Assume Innocence

One way to politely disagree with someone about a work matter is to assume innocence. In other words, don’t think that the person was intentionally misleading you or quoting false information. When you approach co-workers and assume innocence, you’ll find that it’s much easier to figure out why a disagreement occurred. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

9. Try To Find Common Ground

You can disagree in a respectful manner. Disagreeing shouldn’t be frowned upon. Instead, work toward finding common ground. What can you agree upon and how can you focus on the agreements more than the disagreements? For example, if a colleague doesn’t agree with how you are handling a customer service incident, then find things about that situation you can agree on and then agree to disagree on the rest. You probably both agree that the customer’s satisfaction matters. You also likely agree that you want to represent the company well in whatever response you have. The matter you disagree on shouldn’t steal all the focus of the conversation. Be sure that you remember you’re on the same side in a lot of ways. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

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