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Daily Leadership Thought #142 – How Well Do You Disagree?

May 31, 2011

Free Photograph of Coworkers Having a Quarrel Stock Photo

Disagreement is a fact of life.   It is impossible to expect that you will see “eye to eye” with another person on every single issue.  We all see the world from a slightly different perspective.  What matters is how we navigate these disagreements.

Do you take different opinions as a personal affront?  Are you cordial with someone who sees things differently?  How important is it for you to be perceived as always having the right answer and at what cost?  How open are you to different interpretations of the same set of facts? Are you willing to learn from your mistakes and admit when you are wrong?

I wish they would teach conflict management in high school or sooner.  The ability to manage different viewpoints is an essential component of critical thinking ability.  No one person is always right!

Many beliefs that were once held as truths have been disproven or altered due to closer scrutiny, new information, and evolving perspectives.  Haven’t your own views changed over the last 10-20 years?  If you are lucky, aging teaches you humility and the willingness to approach life with a more open mind.

It’s okay to have strong opinions if you are willing to submit them to objective analysis.  The best leaders not only appreciate disagreement, they encourage it.  They push their employees to find the better answer.  The only way to do this is to allow individuals to challenge conventional thinking and sharpen each other’s thought processes through rigorous discussion and debate.  The ability to disagree in a respectful manner is a crucial life skill that affects your career success and capacity to build healthy relationships.  If it is not one of your strengths, start learning how to do it better.