You’re stuck in the office all day everyday with the same people, and see few others until it’s time to clock off. They could be the nicest people in the world, but when you see each other day in and day out, a disagreement is bound to happen. That’s just human nature.
But how do you disagree with a colleague without hurting their feelings, or worse, sparking a bitter spat or fight?
A full-blown argument with a colleague can be upsetting and humiliating, or even worse, could escalate to the point that your job is in danger.
Don’t let disagreements boil over
When the pressure is on and you’re working on a group project against the clock, tempers can fray and sparks can fly. On a more personal level, everyone has their habits and traits that can rub others up the wrong way, particularly on a bad day.
Does that mean that the project can still go ahead without being doomed to failure? Can you respectfully disagree with the person that won’t waver from their different opinion? Will you still be able to get along with your colleague once all is said and done? The answer to all these questions couldn’t be simpler: of course!
Variety is the spice of life
A difference in opinion in the workplace is part and parcel of everyday life. In fact, having a variety of views and thoughts can be a huge factor in the success of a company; if colleagues are too afraid of the consequences of disagreeing, some fantastic ideas may never see the light of day.
Step away from the computer
Should you find yourself in a disagreement with a colleague, you can often find yourself in the middle of a string of emails, going back and forth with little progress. These can soon turn into passive-aggressive messages that can only make matters worse.
Get offline and talk directly to the person you have a disagreement with, either face-to-face or via video chat.
Email is not the place to settle differences
This will allow you to gauge each other’s body language and manner of speech, which in turn will allow you to avoid those common email misunderstandings!
It also shows your colleague that you respect them enough to talk to them directly in a mature and civilised manner, which ought to see them accept your point of view with no hard feelings.
Show empathy and a desire to reach an understanding
There is nothing worse than having someone disagree with everything you say without them even seemingly taking in a single word of your point of view.
Avoid upsetting a colleague with whom you disagree by making sure you are really listening to what they are saying, and showing some empathy to their opinions.
Know what to say to avoid an argument
Phrases such as “I understand where you are coming from, but I just think this approach would be more suitable” show that you have weighed up their beliefs and are not just running ahead with your views blindly. Meeting your colleague halfway can allow you both to build some common ground to work from. Once again, it comes down to respect.
Study the opposition
If you want to win an argument with a colleague or boss without upsetting them, taking the time to consider the way that they operate.
You may be set to butt heads with your manager over an issue, but step back for a moment and decide whether your boss is ruled by their head or their heart. Will a logical approach prevail over an emotional stance?
Understanding a colleague’s mindset can allow you to defuse a potentially volatile situation swiftly, without necessarily meaning you must yield all the ground you had hoped to secure.
There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’
Consider the pronouns that you use when looking to resolve an issue with a colleague. By constantly declaring that something is ‘your’ fault to a fellow employee, you are much more likely to stir up an unhealthy dose of the blame game.
Rather, accepting joint responsibility through ‘we’ shows that you are committed to helping those around you and are not afraid to roll up your sleeves when the going gets tough.
Don’t get personal
Arguments happen, and occasionally tempers can flare. However, it is vitally important that you don’t let your frustrations get the better of you. Personal attacks will reflect badly on you and will get you no closer to resolving the issue at hand. Indeed, it could lead to accusations of bullying and harassment.
Instead, take a moment to cool off and remember why you are disagreeing with your colleague; due to facts, experience, track record etc.
Maintain your dignity with your colleagues
It is not whoever shouts loudest or has the most biting remark that will eventually get their point across.
Rather, if you can separate personal feelings from what you think is right for your work and the company, then you are sure to find that your opinions are taken far more seriously.