Even if you have strong relationships with your colleagues, occasional disagreements with a coworker are bound to occur. Not everyone will see eye-to-eye on everything. While that can lead to innovation, it can also cause trouble, making it hard to move forward on projects or leading to conflict, frustration, and resentment.
Fortunately, conflict is navigable. If you want to make sure that you’re able to overcome difficulties caused by disagreements with coworkers, here are seven tips for successful collaboration that can help.
1. Embrace Active Listening
In some cases, disagreements arise because one party isn’t fully heard. If you’re mainly focusing on what you want to say about a matter, you may be misunderstanding your coworker’s perspective. If that occurs, then conflict often arises.
With active listening, you focus on ensuring you fully hear your colleague. Along with giving them your full attention, take a moment to paraphrase what they share, making sure you perceive it accurately. Additionally, ask probing questions if something is unclear. This increases your odds of getting an accurate picture, which can make finding a compromise easier.
2. Communicate Professionally
When you express your point of view, remain professional. Don’t tear down the other person’s idea. Instead, acknowledge what you appreciate about their perspective, and then talk about your view in a fact-based way and why you believe that path is preferable. This makes the discussion less contentious, which can lead to stronger collaboration.
3. Step Back If Needed
In some cases, it’s best to take a step back when there’s a disagreement. Emotions can prevent people from collaborating effectively, especially if one or both parties get defensive.
If you notice that either you or your colleague are in a heightened state, mention that you believe you both obviously feel strongly about your views but that you’re worried the conversation isn’t productive at this point. Recommend taking a break, allowing you to both recenter before revisiting the topic.
4. Take a Moment to Reflect
If you’re taking a break from the discussion, use that time to reflect. However, don’t focus solely on why you think you’re correct. Instead, use that time to really ponder your coworker’s idea, ensuring you recognize the merits and identify any potential drawbacks.
Then, see if there is a way to address your concerns that allows the bulk of their idea to stay intact. If so, this could lead to a productive discourse later that may result in a compromise. If not, look for data that demonstrates the reasoning behind your concerns, as that gives you facts to present during the next conversation.
5. Know What’s Best for the Company
In the end, doing what’s best for the company is often the way to go. In some cases, simply reminding yourself that is the case can alleviate some tension. Remember, what’s best in your eyes might not align as well with the company’s goals and mission. In those cases, it’s better to keep yourself, and your coworkers focused on that point, making it easier to collaborate effectively.
6. Embrace Testing When Possible
If there’s a disagreement about how to proceed, but it’s possible to do some test runs using both approaches before committing to a path, embrace that opportunity. It’s a chance to explore multiple routes, allowing everyone to see which idea is genuinely the most effective.
7. Bring in a Third Party
In some cases, having an objective third party enter the equation can make navigating conflict either. Whether it’s another colleague, a project manager, or your supervisor, they can look at the situation with fresh eyes. Plus, they aren’t as emotionally invested, making it easier for them to determine which approach is best for the company.
Ready For a Change In Your Career?
Ultimately, disagreements are bound to happen from time to time, but the techniques above can help you navigate conflicts when they do occur. If you’d like to learn more about how you can effectively collaborate in the workplace, the team at Alpha Consulting wants to hear from you. Contact us today.