How to Disagree

When you work with people, there's an inevitability that comes up: disagreement. Sometimes you're expecting it, other times it really surprises you. In the recent months I've been thrown into a much more responsible role where I work, and as such, situations of disagreement have presented themselves to me much more frequently. I think I've learned some things from that experience. This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it 100% correct, I'm sure. It's a good jumping off point and it's the details I try to keep in mind when caught in a disagreement during your day-to-day work.

Note: this probably doesn't count for people whose day-to-day work is literally the line between life and death for people, etc.

1. It's Okay

Really. In fact, it's a good thing to disagree. It's possible for two people to have unique ideas, both of which are good ones. They might even be equally good ideas. Alternately, their, or God forbid, your idea might actually stink. It happens. Not every idea is coated in gold.

2. Explain the Benefits, Consider the Weaknesses

Personally speaking, I believe I am good at explaining why my ideas are good ones. I can give you short-term and long-term benefits of something I am proposing. What I've had to learn with time is that I also need to dive into my ideas and try to find their flaws – by myself – before getting into an argument. Trust me; you come off as an asshole when you consider your ideas impervious, even if they are.

3. Dialogue

Propose ideas, don't present them. What does that mean? Stop commanding attention and start listening for responses, observing body language, and considering how your peers are hearing the words you're saying. If someone has a problem with what you're talking about, discuss with them so that you understand why. Address their concerns if possible. If not, note to yourself that weakness you missed the first time around.

4. Decide

When ideas collide, the worst possible result is the lack of resolution. At the end of the day, progress needs to happen. Take time to rationally consider the options, including compromises that may improve upon the individual ideas, and decide together the path forward. The very important part of all of this is that the right choice and what you want to do may very well be different. Don't get caught in a bubble of believing what you want to do is always the right thing to do.

5. Move On

Seriously. Decision made. For lack of better phrasing: deal with it. There are more important things in life than what you're likely arguing about, and if after this decision things still aren't working out, now you have evidence to suggest alterations to a plan.