How to Create a More Positive Workplace: Handling Disagreements

I conducted a virtual workshop recently on creating a more positive workplace. The insights of the thoughtful and engaged participants were phenomenal! In the weeks to come I will continue to share highlights from the program. After our first session examining what contributes to an ideal workplace, we moved on to handling disagreements. We discussed how to respond appropriately, and how to channel conflict to find common ground and build trust.Since conversations about disagreements can be uncomfortable and unproductive, here are some phrases to have in your toolbox to move the discussion further:

  • It would be helpful if…
  • This might move the project forward…
  • I agree with all these parts, so we just need to work through…

If you are feeling overwhelmed you might say:

  • I am unable to listen right now…
  • I would like to come back later when I can listen fully and be more receptive…
  • I think we need to stop for right now…

If values aren’t in alignment with doing the ethical or moral thing:

  • That surprises me because you are usually so exacting/concerned about the employees/careful about compliance….
  • Have you considered the repercussions…
  • We’re not that kind of a workplace…

And if you want to share your perspective you could say:

  • The story I am telling myself is…
  • What I am making up in my head is…

And most importantly, the best way to end discussions like this is with a genuine statement of collaboration such as: 

  • There’s a lot we do agree on such as…
  • While we don’t always agree, you help me see…
  • I hadn’t considered your perspective.
  • Thank you for taking this so seriously.
  • You always show me other angles.

 What are some ways you handle disagreements?

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