Common Ground

10 Mar
Compelled to Disagree


An Opposing Opinion

It’s 9:45 am and the boss just finished outlining a new goal for your team to work towards. You listened attentively and took notes to remember which areas needed your immediate attention. During the meeting you scanned the faces in the room to determine if your colleagues agreed with the new approach. Unfortunately, you couldn’t tell if they genuinely agreed or were simply afraid to voice an opposing opinion. You like your job, and although you have some concerns, you’re not sure how to voice them without appearing resistant to change. If you feel compelled to share an opposing opinion with your boss, but don’t know where to start, that’s where we come in.

Are Disagreements, Ok?

First, you should know it’s ok to disagree. When we were young, we looked to our parents for guidance; in their absence, we looked to teachers, doctors, and others instead. We’ve learned from an early age to listen to the person in charge, and we expect them to have all the answers. In the workplace, whether in an office or virtual, your boss deserves respect because they earned the position they hold. However, that doesn’t mean they have all the answers. It also doesn’t mean they wouldn’t welcome an opinion contrary to theirs.

Where Do You Start?

If you feel compelled to disagree with your boss’s approach, while they may be willing to hear you out, it’s always best to voice your concerns privately. The last thing you want is to criticize your boss publicly, appear combative, or be labelled as insubordinate. Arrange a meeting to talk-through the issues as you see them. Once you have a meeting set, gather your thoughts, and your suggestions. Don’t go to a meeting empty handed. Remember, if your concerns are to be taken seriously, you’ll need to show that you have considered the issue from all angles, not just your own.

Compelled to Disagree

The Conversation

Now’s the time to voice your opinion and make your words count. If you start off criticizing the approach, your boss will be put on the defensive immediately, and your concerns will never be realized. Instead, think about how you would feel if the roles were reversed. Begin by mentioning what is working before you discuss what could be improved. As human beings, nothing we do is perfect, and no matter what we do it never will be. By acknowledging the positives and listing everything that is working the way it was intended, it will be easier to focus on what needs improvement. This approach will make it easier for your boss to follow your train of thought and understand how you got to your solution.

The Decision

Once you’ve finished laying out the facts, your boss may need time to digest and consider the options. Now, you need to take a step back, get back to work and give your boss time to think. The ball is no longer in your court, and the decision is not yours. One thing to remember is that your boss has company goals to achieve. Remember, even if you sold your boss on the solution, it may not fit the overall direction the company is heading in. In the end, once a decision is made, whether you agree or not, it’s time to move on.

Common Ground

The way you handle disagreements in the workplace whether positive or negative will stick with you. It will follow you wherever you go. If you handle things positively, by presenting the facts, you’ll be regarded as a diligent employee who values their position and wants the best for the organization. If you handle things negatively, you will be viewed as resistant to change and someone who can’t follow directions. Negativity sticks to your reputation, like a stain that never goes away. As Anthony Bourdain once said “I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.” In the end, if you have an opinion, share it, but try to find common ground because the path you choose will change the way your colleagues perceive you.

 

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