Improve Communication at Work – How to Agree to Disagree

Sounds a little crazy I know, but knowing how to walk away from a contentious situation while still being able to agree is a necessary communication skill in business.

What exactly do I mean? Well, if you find yourself in a conversation in which you have consciously applied good communication skills including being an active listener and still find you cannot agree on any point, or you simply do not see eye-to-eye, then it just might be time to agree to disagree.

The consequences of taking a stand for yourself and your principles may be far reaching so be sure you know what you are doing. Communicating your opposing view while maintaining your composure takes fortitude and conviction.

I had a boss once who calmly walked into my office and simply announced that he (the president) had agreed to disagree with the CEO. Not quite sure what that meant, I gave him a questioning look and asked for an explanation.

Apparently, a major request or change of direction, or a shift in command  resulted in a situation where neither  he nor the CEO were willing to compromise. So they agreed to disagree.

It was civil conversation but the result of agreeing to disagree  meant my boss opted to leave his position. Yet, I have no doubt that he slept well that night. He honored his integrity.

You may find yourself in this position some day and you may not be in the financial position to simply walk away as my boss did.  The situation you are disagreeing with may be more than simply a blow to your ego, it may involve something unethical.

If you can agree to disagree and continue working without interruption then go for it.  But if you find the situation puts you at risk for a lawsuit or worse and you decide to stay ask yourself this–is the cost to your peace-of-mind, to your integrity,  to your family, to your self-worth and your health worth it?

What challenging communication situations have you dealt with at work?

Find more answers to these questions in Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up.  Buy it at Amazon.com

2 comments

  1. Linda K. Siddons, CPS says:

    I totally agree. There are some ideas of management that you do not have to agree with in order to continue to work. But there are other management ideas that I would not work under such as unethical policies.

  2. Allie Casey says:

    Thanks for your comment,Linda. Deciding between the two (staying or leaving) is often the greatest challenge.

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