Corporate Wellness

How To Disagree Respectfully, Learning The Art

Every now and then, we all find ourselves disagreeing with our colleagues. But do we disagree politely, or is it leading to conflict? Discover the art of how to disagree respectfully to navigate tough conversations with grace, understanding, and empathy.

By URLife Team
03 Jan 2023

No matter how well a team works, disagreements are bound to crop up, even when there are no bad intentions. It might happen while trying to adjust to a new boss or when managing a team for the first time. But keeping the situation from spiralling out of control is critical for a good working environment. This means being aware of how you present your point and being sure not to come off as brash or aggressive.

It's worth the effort to handle conflict calmly, resulting in a better atmosphere, no grudges, and stronger professional relationships. Below are eight effective strategies to help you understand how to disagree respectfully:


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1. Listen To Them

At some point, you'll disagree with someone, and that’s just the reality of working with different personalities and teams. Staying civil and making sure others feel heard when disagreeing is key.

Acknowledge their opinion, and show that you respect their view, even if it's not the same as yours. This will help them to understand your point of view better and make the conversation more amicable. It will make you more open-minded, receptive to others’ opinions and approachable. It will also encourage your team members to talk to you about any problems.


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2. Discuss And Ask Questions

Disagreeing doesn't have to be avoided. It can initially seem daunting, especially when learning the ropes or moving into a new role. But instead of becoming defensive of your ideas and creating conflicts with others, asking questions with a curious and kind disposition is more beneficial. You'll find out what matters to your team and their favoured working style. And don't forget, your thoughtfulness will bring rewards, not retributions!


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3. Take It As A Learning Opportunity

Disagreements can be a great way to learn and grow. From an exchange of ideas and opinions, you can find a new, more efficient approach and have the chance to think creatively. By discussing and listening carefully, you can come up with the best solution. So don't shy away from disagreements,challenge your assumptions and take advantage of the learning opportunities.


4. Try To Use Language That Sounds Flexible

If you want to come across in a friendly manner, it's best to phrase everything you say as your opinion. Explaining that what you are proposing is your perspective allows room for your colleague to change their mind. Avoiding absolutes and seeking understanding helps prevent the situation from becoming confrontational.

Try using phrases like, "I understand what you're saying, but this is my viewpoint." This prevents a hostile environment and increases the likelihood of your colleague agreeing with your ideas.


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5. Talk Numbers Rather Than Making Personal Comments

You must be careful with how you word your thoughts and emphasise facts instead of making personal comments to express your opinion to your colleague without causing tension.

For instance, if you and your teammate have different views on the same presentation, recognise and understand their perspective. At the same time, don't waver in your own opinions. Focus on stating facts. You can add in your experience by saying, "Your idea isn't entirely wrong in terms of creativity, but in my marketing experience I feel like it might hamper our sales," or "I think it's better if we look at our previous statistics to understand whether we can afford to apply this idea" to prevent any accusatory language in your discussion. You can make disagreements non-personal and focus on what's beneficial for the organisation.


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6. Consider It As A Way To Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills

When you're in disagreement, you're in the midst of a negotiation. Striking a balance between what's best for you and them is the key to successful talks. You've got to influence and understand each other's perspective to achieve a beneficial outcome.


7. Take A Break To Avoid Heating The Situation

Taking a breather in the middle of a disagreement can be helpful. It gives both of you a chance to cool off and come back to it with fresh eyes. That way, it's easier to listen to the other person's perspective, weigh the options, and look for solutions that work for everyone. It also allows you to take a step back and assess the situation more logically.


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8. Come Up With A Solution That Satisfies Both Parties

Agree to disagree respectfully. Instead of letting disagreements drag on and breed tension, try to find common ground. See if there's an issue that you both can agree on, and use it to draw attention away from the disagreement. Think of it like this: even if you don't see eye to eye on everything, you can probably agree that the customer's satisfaction is a priority and that you both want to uphold the company's values. So, focus on the common ground, and let the disagreements take a back seat.


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Why Are Healthy Disagreements At Work Okay

In his book Nonflict: The Art of Everyday Peacemaking, Stephen Hecht mentioned that conflict is a co-creative process. He believes healthy conflicts unite both parties to come up with a solution. It's about understanding each other's points of view, daydreaming about an ideal situation, and figuring out how to get there.


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Moreover, avoiding conflict makes it hard to work together to tackle difficult issues. When faced with a complex challenge, it's best to get a person with diverse abilities and ideas to understand the situation. Although this leads to differences in opinion, these should be embraced because disagreement is key to finding the best solution for complicated problems.

Avoiding quarrels carries dangers beyond our solo or limited group associations with each other. Eventually, the inability to engage with conflicts properly contributes to many of us dividing into separate and secluded bubbles. The capacity to interact with conflict and collaborate through it to accomplish a genuine understanding is a vital part of building a wide-ranging and diverse population. Hence, it is essential to learn how to disagree respectfully!


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