b-school, Business, Management, Project Management, Thoughts

Disagree, but don’t be disagreeable!

What happens if in a meeting something is said and you think it’s not right? Easy. You say no. You can say it softer or louder, directly or through complicated verses, but you say no. That’s all.

Now let’s add another ingredient to the soup: power. Some people have more power than others, and I’m referring to an organisation. And you are the one not to have it. Unlucky you. And relationships are in a touchy state… you no longer can afford to say no… but you still have to disagree. What can you do?

Just remember that you can acknowledge something, being either the cat or the mouse, and that doesn’t mean you agree. It means you’re still able to listen. Don’t let your defensiveness show through your lack of attention. Don’t let your position, whatever it is, impair your education or politeness, you’re still a professional.

You don’t have to think that listening, and acknowledging what you’ve heard means yielding. Nor you should thing that expressing your point of view means winning. It’s good to put your cards on the table even so to understand everyone’s position. And it’s something that speaks highly of you to acknowledge the position of the other, the only compromise is on behalf of your professionality.

Still if you are the mice you have to find ways to make the ideas move around the table, to show contradictions in the other’s position. Just visualise their ideas from your point of view “so you mean that if things are done like this then… but if they are done that way like you say, those issues are no longer problematic… is this, thus, what’s at stake?”. Don’t refrain to be challenging “… isn’t that a contradiction” or even reassuring yourself “isn’t this more less the same I was saying” and minimise the differences “could that be that our only difference is where we locate that square… is that really so important?” or don’t fall into distractions “aren’t we moving out of track here?”.

And last, but not least, wherever you are, don’t make it personal. People are not at stake here, issues are. The rather provocative “could you express this less personally?” requires to have shown interest in the other person, to have been careful about showing attention, to avoid gestures that show rejection, to avoid aggressive voice tones. Only then you’ll be able to mediate yourself, be able to reconcile whilst being an active part, keeping the link open whatever happens…



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