This is the right way to disagree with your coworkers

It’s possible to disagree in a way that’s professional but still gets your point across at work. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

It’s possible to disagree in a way that’s professional but still gets your point across at work. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Think about the greater good

Peter Barron Stark, a consultant, speaker, coach, author, co-creator of The Manager’s Toolkit and President of Peter Barron Stark Companies, writes on his site about “constructive disagreement” within organizations. One of his tips is to “change your goals from ‘being right’ to finding a solution that will work.”

“When disagreements occur, egos take over and both counterparts can develop a need to be right. The minute you think you are right, you are also indirectly saying that you are smarter than your counterpart or the team. If you are focused on the goal of resolving the disagreement versus ‘being right,’ there may be multiple solutions that will work,” he writes.

Strive to communicate in-person

Jill Ozovek, ACC, CPC, a certified professional coach, blogger, writer and founder of the Career Passport, writes about disagreeing with a coworker in The Muse. Her first tip is to “get offline.”

After mentioning that you shouldn’t see emails in the heat of the moment, but rather, talk “in-person, or over the phone or video chat if in-person isn’t feasible,” she continues:

“Why? First and foremost, you can both read body language and hear intonations in each other’s voices this way, leading to fewer misunderstandings (how many times has something come across as snarky in an email, when you only meant it as explanatory?),” she writes. “Secondly, talking in person also helps you both remember that you’re talking to a person—presumably a person you like—not just a computer screen. This will make it easier to be sympathetic and make it more likely that you’ll do your best to work together to find a solution, rather than fight against each other.”

She later mentions how the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott has informed her related work.

Show that you listened to the other party as well

Susan M. Heathfield is an HR expert, speaker, professional facilitator, writer, speaker, trainer and management and organization development consultant.

She writes in The Balance that “you want to validate your coworker’s opinion” during a work disagreement.

“Identify the components with which you agree and acknowledge that you can understand or see why she might feel the way she does. Open your disagreement by repeating what the other party said rather than launching into your areas of disagreement first. Help the person feel as if he was listened to, heard out, and understood,” Heathfield writes.

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.