You won’t always agree with everyone you work with. Whether you have a professional matter you disagree on, have differing political views or just seem to disagree on everything, it can be challenging to find common ground with certain team members.
For the sake of your productivity as a team, and your relationship with your coworker, it’s essential that you find a way to work together. But how can you work alongside someone you disagree with and still be a strong, effective team?
Here are three ways to work with those you disagree with.
1. Keep communication lines open. When you disagree with someone, it can be easy to limit contact or avoid them altogether to avoid feeling tense or uneasy. You may find yourself being less conversational or even having a hard time listening to them.
Maintain open communication with those you disagree with. Opinions can change, solutions can be found and tensions can be diffused, but only if you’re open to working things out and having honest, intentional conversations. Even if perspectives don’t change or solutions aren’t found right away, it’s still your responsibility to treat them with the same respect and consideration as everyone else you work with.
2. Respect their point of view. You may find it hard to relate to the other person or have a hard time seeing their perspective on the issue at hand. As challenging as it may be, it’s crucial that you try to understand where they’re coming from.
Be intentional about asking for their thoughts and trying to understand why they feel the way they do. Be careful to not interrupt or chime in with your opinion. Instead, practice showing empathy and genuinely listening to what they have to say. Doing so will help you appreciate different perspectives and respect others, even if you don’t agree with them.
3. Don’t let it define your relationship. When you disagree with someone, it can be easy to hyperfixate on what you disagree on. You may forget all of your positive interactions or be unable to see what you have in common.
As hard as it may be, remember that their difference of opinion is not who they are, and that it does not make them a bad person or employee. Take time to consider the strengths they bring to your team and how well you have worked together in the past. Appreciating the positives will help you shift your focus away from the disagreement and help you see them as an individual with unique strengths, perspectives and feelings.
It can be challenging to not get swept up in the emotions of your disagreement. It’s important to set aside your feelings and respect each other as individuals. Work through conflicts as you can and try to find solutions together, remembering that your working relationship is more important than any disagreement or difference in opinion.
-written by Dr. Kent Ingle