Disagreeing well is an important skills in today’s working environments, where roles are moving from task-based to capability focused; team members are asked for their subject matter expertise and often required to mentor others, and top-down, ‘leader knows best’ structures are giving way to manaakitanga, agile practices, and shared knowledge and expertise.
Disagreement is valuable because it raises issues that might otherwise have been overlooked. It is also an essential ingredient for innovation, as well as team members’ willingness to take accountability for results.
Disagreeing well happens when both parties recognise that the other person has a personal context and view that is valid for them. The term ‘valid’ does not mean ‘correct’ or ‘better’. It simply means acknowledging that there is nuance at play. This acknowledgement encourages exploring both contexts to determine what has merit and what does not. When both parties are willing to examine the context, the conversation can shift to shared outcomes, forward momentum, problem solving, negotiation, and managing emotions. If nuance and context is not recognised, there is a risk that the conversation becomes a win-lose discussion, where the goal is to be ‘right’.
Disagreeing well also acknowledges that there is a possibility that one or both parties might not walk away from the conversation with the outcomes they wanted. But they both feel heard and respected, and both parties have a way forward that makes sense to them.
A challenge for individuals who would like to do this better can be that, because they are leading the conversation, they are also the one making concessions and exercising empathy and thoughtfulness. So this webinar and accompanying document provides a basic framework for disagreeing well, and focuses on how an individual can ensure their own concerns are heard and responded to, as well as that of the other party.
The skill is to state your concern, and then invite immediate response. It’s a simple principle, but harder in practice. The webinar and accompanying document explore the language that is required to do this well.
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