Disagreeing – Professionally

The goal of any professional, or rather anyone who considers themselves to be professional, is to disagree civilly. That is what makes a professional a professional. They don’t get riled up.   This is professional, not personal.

That’s the ideal. The reality ... yeah – most of us get riled up. So, the question is – how can we maintain our professional standards of conduct and still disagree and still be heard and still make our point when other people are taking it personally.  And how can we not take it personally when they so clearly make it personal?

The humanistic approach to solving any problem is 3 fold.  First, what does science say will work? Second, how can we utilize compassion so that we don’t get riled up and make it personal. And third, how can we take responsibility for making sure our disagreements don’t get person instead of blaming other people for making it personal?

The good news is that the solution to this problem relies on all 3 skills. It is science based, compassionate and it requires you to be responsible for your actions. In other words, doing this, will help you not only appear to be professional, but you will actually be the embodiment of professionalism!

The good news is that these skills can be learned.

  • First – Don’t ever turn a disagreement into an argument. Accept differences of opinion for what they are. Differences of opinion. Sure, the other person might be a total idiot, but even if they are, they still are entitled to their opinion and when you respect that, an amazing thing happens: instead of them trying to defend themselves from your negative opinions of them, they can instead focus on the question you are trying to get them to help you solve. 
  •  Second, If you find yourself in an argument, let them win. Concede their point, even if you don’t agree with them. This takes their argument off the table and allows you to move past it to more productive conversations. And again, this conceding thing, makes you look really good and really professional because ... wait for it ... your ego isn’t so big that you have to defend your position to the death! Professionals don’t let their egos get in the way of getting things done. Concede.

FYI - I did this the other day in an online political debate and ending up convincing the other person I was correct. The way this works is I conceded and said – even if what you said is true – how do we fix this ... And I waited for their response. Eventually they had to concede that they weren’t seeing something I was and we came to an agreement. Concession is a powerful tool. It makes you seem reasonable and not at all antagonistic even when the issue is really contentious.

  • Finally, ask questions. I didn’t just concede, I went on to pose questions that the other person hadn’t considered. This force the person to think about what I was concerned about.  I didn’t force my opinions on this person. I encouraged them to consider the possibilities. 
The good news is that even if you start out getting riled, as soon as you realize you are not behaving professionally, you can change course and start implementing these strategies. And yes, this does work. That online political conversation I was having, let’s just say I was NOT being my best most ethical, compassionate and rational person when that conversation started. I switched tacks. Reminded myself it was ok to concede and turned what had been an acrimonious conversation around.

This really does work. The bonus is that there is research to back up this approach (which I’m not going to get into here).  By the way - I have an online course that teaches these skills - How to Win Arguments Without Arguing.

 - Get 50% when you take it at UDemy https://www.udemy.com/socraticjujitsu/?couponCode=HowtoArgue   

- Get an even better deal when you take it at Humanist Learning Systems - using "socrates" as your discount code: https://humanistlearning.com/socratic-jujitsu/

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