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4 Ways to Constructively Respond to Disagreement

When a disagreement comes up in the office, as they inevitably do, how does your team react?

Are you able to constructively disagree and find a compromise, or do office politics become too tense to come to a resolution?

When it comes to the employee-manager relationship, employees are often afraid to disagree with their manager for fear of jeopardizing their job or disrupting the peace.

Yet, as a manager, you can probably agree that you want feedback — especially from your employees. If we didn’t believe in the ideas of our team members, we wouldn’t have hired them in the first place.

In a recent post, we talked about 6 Ways to Practice Respectful Communication, including:

  1. Practicing active listening.
  2. Using the proper medium.
  3. Sharing the space.
  4. Embracing opposing views.
  5. Leading by example.
  6. Aiming to encourage.

Embracing opposing views,” is sometimes easier said than done, but to truly create a safe space for communication, collaboration and teamwork, managers must be prepared to deal with the occasional pushback.

Here are 4 Constructive Ways to Respond to Disagreement.

1. Acknowledge, then ask for support.

Just because an employee disagrees with a decision you’ve made, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to change your mind. It’s important to acknowledge the feedback and give it proper consideration, but at the end of the day, you may still choose to stick to your guns.

Explain to your team member you have many factors to consider, potentially ones outside of their role or that they may not be aware of. While you don’t need every team member to be a “yes man” 100% of the time, you still need them to get on board when a decision has been made final.

Disagreeing is one thing, but at the end of the day, you need their support and trust in your decision-making.

2. Organize a private discussion.

The worst time for a disagreement to spike is during a client or team meeting. Your clients and colleagues will look to see how you will react when challenged, especially by one of your team members.

Client meetings are most sensitive and can mean the difference between your clients losing faith in your organization.

In the heat of the moment, it’s best to take pause, rather than risk reacting irrationally. Diffuse the situation as soon as possible, then arrange a one-on-one discussion with the disagreeing employee at a later time.

Discuss ways in which they can be more mindful of their surroundings and company, as well as judging when is appropriate to disagree and when is not.

3. Make a plan for next time.

Creating an environment where employees feel welcome to speak up and share their ideas (even opposing ones) is important to the growth of an organization. Disagreeing is easy, but coming up with a solution is the important part. 

Next time your employee disagrees with you, ask them to come prepared with a better solution or suggestion, to make the conversation as productive as possible.

It benefits no one to simply “nay-say” without putting forth a better alternative. If your team member can come with a “case” against your idea or decision, you will have something to work off of and build a better plan together.

4. Make it clear when it’s time to “let it go.”

As much as you want your employees to contribute and their thoughts, it’s important to know when to back down. If a team member is constantly questioning and challenging your every decision, it can quickly become tiresome and time-consuming.

If you have a team member who particularly struggles with buy-in, try to understand where their lack of trust comes from, or why they feel the need to disagree so often.

Your team member should understand the importance of picking their battles and when it’s time to let it go and move on simply.

Want to learn more about managing team dynamics and leadership strategies? Check out my book, “Seven Figure Firm: How to Build a Financial Services Business that Grows Itself” and learn how to reach the next level of success and live the lifestyle you’ve always wanted.

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4 Ways to Constructively Respond to Disagreement
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Disagreement is an inevitable factor of team dynamics -- how do you respond when an employee has a differing opinion? With these 4 Ways to Constructively Respond to Disagreement, you’ll build better communication and collaboration within your team.
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