Productive Disagreements

executiveagenda Executive Agenda March 1, 2023

Conflict Resolution in the Workplace.

The Intriguing Psychology Behind Disagreeing Productively

How collaboration and thoughtful discussion are key to resolving professional conflicts.

All relationships will eventually have some conflict, but not all professionals possess the skills to resolve conflict in a productive manner. Even worse, in disagreements, digital messengers and social apps are being used in ways that can cause more confusion and interpersonal tensions.

With respect to the workplace, digital communication allows us to express opinions that we could never express face-to-face and without body language to convey our true meaning, thereby increasing the risk of relationship breakdown.

Who are workers exchanging blows with? For the most part, it's among coworkers.

In a survey conducted by Human Resources Online, the top sources of workplace conflicts were work stress (25%), lack of teamwork (25%), and rude behavior (22%). Other causes of conflict include "lack of transparency/honesty about something important" (18%), a "clash of values" (9%) and a "false accusation" (2%).

Through our trusted friendly community of executives, we promote and practice positive conflict resolution skills in safe group environments. This confidential setting exists so professional peers are enabled to learn from each other in an unparalleled, real-time, pragmatic development program.

Disagreements can seem unpleasant, even offensive, but they are vital to professional reason and progress. Without productive conflict, our careers and direction can remain in the dark or stagnant.

To help professionals deal with this issue, we have collected a few of the most current best practice techniques combined with helpful psychology for making conflict resolution constructive rather than destructive.

Step 1 - Utilize Creative Thinking

Resolving conflict demands creativity.

Creativity requires the following abilities:

  • openness
  • listening
  • acceptance
  • mutuality
  • risk-taking
  • trust
  • awareness
  • collaboration
  • practice

For example, when we look at a problem from all sides, this openness allows you the opportunity to listen and "get out of your head" rather than focus on your position or pre-planned strategy.

Usually, in a disagreement that seems irreparable, preconceived ideas are the "first to go" when we are able to mature with creative thinking.

"How could the world be freed from the terrible dilemma of conflict, on the one hand, and psychological and social dissolution, on the other? The answer was this: through the elevation and development of the individual, and through the willingness of everyone to shoulder the burden of Being and to take the heroic path."
— Jordan B. Peterson

Greater professional growth can occur when reasoning, and thoughtfulness progress and evolve at the same rate as our skillset and influence in business.

Step 2 - Put "I statements" to use

A very useful way to avoid blaming and to feel understood is to use "I" statements. That means instead of saying to management or project lead "Why aren’t you supporting me like you should?" you say "I feel unsupported in my role". Instead of saying, "You don’t care about my ideas, you already know what needs to be done." you say "I feel like my input is not respected, and it makes me frustrated from time to time."

This is a skill that takes practice. As a result, it promotes honesty and openness in conflict situations which in turn reaches the heart of the matter.

Step 3 - Put Winning Aside

Having disagreements isn't about winning or losing. Sometimes we don't get our way. Sometimes agreeing to disagree is the best possible scenario. A solution to the problem may not happen that day or any day in the near future. The focus should be on developing a mutual understanding, where both parties' needs are met, and both players are doing what's best for the business, group, or relationship. There should never be a focus on proving who is right.

Developing this attitude will enable you to manage stressful situations and diffuse problematic scenarios in a constructive manner.

Now What?

  • Take the time to ask your mentors any questions you may have. An experienced person can offer solutions that you might not be aware of while you are tunnel-visioned in a situation.
  • Engage in role-playing with a colleague during a break-out session at Executive Agenda. Twelve to sixteen senior executives who will assist you with identifying opportunities and resolving problems.
  • Consider joining a professional group or forming a group of peers to discuss conflicting issues. Become a member of a Facebook group or consider joining Executive Agenda.

When you have developed a toolkit of abilities within a disagreement, you can more easily tackle larger problems in a relaxed, efficient, and productive manner. Over time, you will gain wisdom and insights that will enable you to become a better leader or professional who can benefit others.

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