Differences of opinion are a necessary catalyst for growth. Managers who discourage opinions that differ from their own, either overtly (“I don’t want to hear it! We’re doing it X way, and that’s that.”) or covertly (“Mm-hm, that’s interesting,” aka shining you on), miss out on the opportunities afforded by a multiplicity of ideas.
You are not the sole authority on your business. Hard to hear, I know, but often there are employees and co-workers who are more in touch with certain aspects of the business, or the economic environment, or even social media – who could add great value, if you’d only let them.
Humans have basically three knee-jerk reactions to our opinions being challenged: we fight, flee, or faint.
We fight: defend, get aggressive, deny any other possibility.
We flee: ignore the challenge, leave the room (literally), “forget” the comment
We faint: make nice, give in to “please,” go along to get along.
A compelling alternative to all three of these instinctive reactions is to follow Judith E. Glaser’s recommendation:
“Clarify the conflict by talking through each partyʼs stance. For example, “You seem to be suggesting that we really need to focus on elevating our gross revenue before we invest in a new IT strategy. Is that right?” or “It seems like weʼre envisioning two different levels of risk. Tell me more about what youʼre seeing as the downside.”
Requesting clarity is a great way to bypass defending, ignoring or pleasing and get to the real heart of the matter: what is of value in your employee/co-worker’s opinion?
Because that is what is important to your success and the success of your business.