by Paul Casey

When You Disagree with Someone, Do This!

[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Website” type=”url” /][contact-field label=”Message” type=”textarea” /][/contact-form]Fight the urge to rush in and blast back at that person that just said something that rubbed you the wrong way, which hurts the relationship and lowers your credibility. Instead, consider these options for staying true to yourself while getting your opinion or feelings onto the table for consideration:

  1. Take into account both of your conflict resolution styles. If you are aware of your default mechanisms, you can be more intentional in bringing your best to the discussion–and not fall into typical traps of your past. And, if you can perceive the other person’s style, you can meet them where they are and custom-treat them in ways where your approach would be better received.
  2. Be curious about where they stand. Ask questions and use phrases like “Help me understand” and “Please elaborate” and “This is my perspective…What is your perspective?” You might just re-evaluate your position after listening actively.
  3. Show that you “get” them. Even if their position isn’t logical to you or seems poorly-intended, validate their feelings and show appreciation for their seeking to work this out.
  4. State your case gently….but don’t beat around the bush. Start with an “I feel…” statement, as feelings are always valid. Make sure to say the emotion you feel directly after the words “I feel” and not insert the word “you.” Or, start with “I could be totally wrong, but…” to share how an observation has led you to an assumption. Saying “Another way to look at this…” is also a good lead-in to give your perspective.
  5. Push back respectfully, never aggressively (never bringing out the “hammer”), nor with escalating, emotionally-charged accusations which just stir the pot. Seek to remove the emotion from the discussion, which usually means separating the issue from the person. Be very conscious of your tone of voice.
  6. Take the time necessary to hash it out. Conflict-resolution requires patience. Commit to staying together through it, no matter how messy. The goal is to keep the discussion going without anyone bailing on the process. Read their body language and look for signs of dis-engagement.
  7. Maintain their dignity. Never confront in public; seek to conflict-resolve in private. If disagreeing in a meeting, always look to “save face” of the person involved without any intent to embarrass.
  8. Seek a win-win solution. Compromise often means both people lose something (better than staying at odds). However, if you can build from common ground and work toward some type of consensus, a workable solution isn’t far away. Keep re-iterating the goal.
  9. Discuss potential outcomes of both courses of action. “If we went with your/my option, what is likely to happen (good/bad)?” Even though the devil doesn’t need an advocate, it’s helpful to brainstorm scenarios of where the proposed course would take you.
  10. Know when to fold ’em. Not every conflict is resolvable. There are times when backing off is the right play to continue the relationship or because the stakes are low. Agreeing to disagree, with grace, shows the character of letting things go and not allowing bitterness to creep in.

You can do this! And the more you practice finding your voice AND respecting his/her voice, the more your emotional intelligence will grow–and your relationships will go a notch deeper.  Please share this with anyone you know who is dealing with a conflict situation in front of them this week!


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