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Action Tip

A practical guide to constructive disagreement

It’s a tricky but oh-so-common situation: You and your colleague have radically different points of view. Yet you have to keep working together. Find out how to talk to each other positively and politely, respecting one another’s opinion without necessarily changing your own.

Based on

Conflicted, How Productive Disagreements Lead to Better Outcomes, Ian Leslie, (HarperCollins, 2021).

1. Prepare yourself mentally 

Let go: No, you can’t control what other people think or feel. Abandoning this futile hope will relieve you of unnecessary tension. 

Forget about status: It turns disagreements toxic. Show consideration for the other person – their role and function – regardless of their position in the hierarchy. 

Don’t think you’re the “normal” one and that the other person is “strange.” They probably think the same thing! Put things in perspective: Everything is a question of perception or (depending on the circumstances) cultural differences. 

Be curious, and be ready to take an interest in what the other person is saying, even if you don’t understand them and don’t agree with their views. 

Always look for what is truthful and sincere when someone is saying something you think is wrong, if only to stay connected to your colleague as a human being. They have their personal reasons for believing what they believe. 

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Marianne Gerard
Published by Marianne Gerard
Marianne graduated from HEC in 1998 and is now a freelance journalist specializing in management and higher education. What really fires her up is the human dimension and she is c taking a psychology course at Rennes 2 University.