Disagreement is normal in any social and organizational setting, considering the fact that people come from different backgrounds with their own orientation and views on issues. In every relationship, personal or professional, there will always be some disagreement. You will never find an environment where people always agree and understand each other. That’s fantasy, not reality.
Developing a productive means of addressing it is most needed. If it is concealed, avoided or otherwise ignored, it will possibly fester on and grow into resentment, create withdrawal or cause factional infighting within an organization. It may get so deep seated and dirty to the extent that resolving it becomes an impossibility
Breakdowns in communication can badly affect the flow of work and relationships – a lot of disagreements amount to a breakdown in communication. Any form of disagreement must be settled immediately so it does not degenerate into attacks on either persons involved or productivity.
Seek to understand. People tend to disagree when they don’t understand each other. When one party is so busy wanting to be heard and doesn’t spend any time trying to understand, disagreement is right around the corner. So first, seek to understand and appreciate. That does not mean you have to agree, just that you’re open to hearing them out.
Look beyond your own triggers. Many disagreements stem from someone being triggered by something that’s been said. What’s triggered is usually fear and awareness of one’s limitations. Whatever may have happened in your past, you have to find a way to get past your triggers and see that you’re in a new situation with a person who doesn’t mean you harm.
Look for similarities, not differences. The best way to begin resolving a disagreement is to look for common ground. When you concentrate on differences, the space grows wider, but when you seek out what you have in common, it helps bridge the gap. The next time you find yourself in a disagreement, look for a point of agreement–even if you have to stretch.
Be a good listener. In any disagreement, it’s important for both parties to be heard. And that means it’s important to be a good listener – curious, open minded and nonjudgmental. A good listener gives their full attention, asks for clarification when necessary, and can listen to different opinions without becoming defensive or argumentative. The best way to listen is to be silent – that’s when you can learn.
Take responsibility for your own feelings. Especially in heated disagreements, it’s easy to start making accusations, laying blame and making excuses. To work through it, you have to be honest with yourself and take full responsibility for your own feelings, and for your interpretations that may have contributed to the breakdown.
Make a commitment. In times of intense disagreement, it’s not uncommon for one or both parties to have one foot out the door. If you want to truly get to the heart of the matter, make sure the other person understands your commitment to the relationship. Even if you have an issue with the behavior, you have to keep that separate.
Use positive language. No one wants to be called names or to be called out in a negative way, or to hear all the bad things they have done in the past. If you speak in negatives, you will hurt the person and shut them down. If you can bring positivity to what you are trying to say, it’s far more likely that you’ll be heard, and that the disagreement can be resolved more quickly and easily.
Disagreements are a way of life, but they don’t have to cause havoc. An essential component of leadership is the ability to deal with disagreement through the development of an effective people management skills. Leaders must create collaboration, peaceful co-existence amongst team’s members and a conducive work environment. An organizations ability to handle disagreement can be a good employee retention strategy – create a healthy work atmosphere and the best talent will stay.
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