Have you ever been in a meeting and heard one of your peers say something that you knew was wrong?
What did you do – say you are wrong and this is the right answer? On the other hand, did you simply contradict them with the right answer? After all…the correct answer is burning a hole in your stomach and you just had to get it out!
In business, we often find ourselves in situations of disagreement.
Too often we respond with what immediately pops in our heads without realizing how much damage that can do to our careers – especially if we embarrass the boss. So what do we do? Say what we want without worrying about the consequences, or do we allow the speaker to save face? I work with a guy who never disagrees with anyone. He simply goes on with his own business. I might question his approach sometimes, but it often seems to work well for him.
Dale Carnegie said in his best selling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, “The only way to get the best of an argument is to AVOID IT.” This principle might suggest that my co-worker is right. I believe there is another way to give us the benefit of having the right answer – while still allowing the speaker to save face.
When we immediately react with our first thought, “I disagree with you on that point,” we gain nothing. All we have done is aggravate the person that we have said this to, and we never proved that we were actually right. Instead, we might find a point we can agree on and then share our point using only facts – no emotions.
An example might look like this:
“Susie, I agree that the consultants have done a good job on the project you have worked on with them. I know they completed the project on time and under budget. Your leadership was the main contributor of their success. Consider the last five projects they were involved with. The evidence shows a different picture. Not a single project was completed on time and all were over budget. Therefore, I believe that your leadership was the primary reason for their success, and I also believe these consultants should not be used going forward.”
Notice that I found a point that I could agree on, even complementing Susie on her success and leadership! I brought forth the evidence proving my point – without an argument. I simply stated the facts, which is always a winning strategy. How would you approach this disagreement? Comment on this post and let us know!
“Letting one save face! How important, how vitally important that is! And how few of us ever stop to think of it! We ride roughshod over the feelings of others, getting our own way, finding fault, issuing threats, criticizing a child or an employee in front of others, without even considering the hurt to the other person’s pride. Whereas a few minutes’ thought, a considerate word or two, a genuine understanding of the other person’s attitude, would go so far toward alleviating the sting!” -Dale Carnegie