The only things Mick and I disagree about is the band, the music and what we do. – Keith Richards
Ha! So how is it, with all that dissent, that the Rolling Stones became one of the most popular and longest-surviving acts in rock music?
Disagreements are at the heart of destruction. But good people, and apparently even Keith Richards, know the value of handling disagreements favorably.
It’s true that people can disagree without being disagreeable.
With the intense turmoil on the national political landscape, this is a great time to review some of the most effective soft skills when it comes to handling real-life workplace disagreements.
But first, just a reminder that soft skills aren’t always about being soft. Well-meaning managers can face acrid disagreements with employees and colleagues who don’t always have the highest of intentions, and so must stand their ground.
But being fair and tactful in these situations is the hallmark of a good leader.
Here are six keys to arguing well (and getting your way):
1) Find Middle Ground.
It may be an overused expression, but it’s true. Diplomatic leaders find one thing to agree on, such as a statement of fact – a date, place or time that something occurred or a physical attribute. Anything. Then saying something like, “We agree that … ” sets the stage for more discussion and agreement down the rod.
2) Be Polite And Stay Polite.
You don’t have to be friends with people, but it pays to be cordial. You attract more bees with honey, than with vinegar. When leaders are polite during a disagreement, others will likely mirror their behavior. In most difficult workplace discussions, the manager who holds her posture garners respect, and usually gains ground, too.
3) Stay Cool.
Composure, composure, composure. It takes practice. Getting louder never resolves issues any faster. To make a point, repeat it using different language. For instance: “If we want to meet the deadline, we have to put in the extra hours now, rather than later.” Or “The best option is to work extra hours now, not next week.” Stick to the points.
4) Don’t Escalate.
You probably know how to pushes other peoples’ buttons. Avoid that temptation, as fun as it may seem. Some people can push a button with a huge smile on their face. That’s even worse. You might disagree about the work, but don’t make it personal.
5) Don’t Take The Bait.
On the flip side, people will try to get under your skin.. The best thing to do is ignore them or call them on it. For instance, “It’s difficult to find a solution to our issue when you question my intentions.” Then restate the issue – again!
6) Don’t Create Emotional Hurdles.
Often no one sees his or her faults until others point them out – and they’re still unlikely to own up to them. So forget asking others to apologize for poor behavior. Speak your peace and leave it at that. Then focus on what can be done to fix the problem at hand.