The workplace can be a stressful environment, especially when people must work together to find solutions to urgent and complex problems. Inevitably, not everyone in the workplace agrees with one another, and it can be difficult to propose new ideas when they carry the possibility of catalyzing disagreement and conflict. It’s important to continue contributing new ideas even though not everyone may agree with you. In addition, it’s equally important to know when to graciously defend your ideas, and when to allow for the possibility that you could be wrong.
Being wrong feels like being right. In the workplace, and in life, it’s essential to keep in mind that being wrong can feel exactly like being right. Kathryn Schulz explored this idea in a recent TED talk, in which she points out that there’s nothing that feels inherently different about being wrong compared to being right. Thus, it’s necessary to accept that an idea that feels completely on-target could still potentially benefit from improvement.
What don’t others agree with, and why? After accepting that not all of our ideas are right, or are the best solution to a particular problem, it’s important to take a moment to ask what it is that others don’t agree with. Seeing our ideas from another person’s point of view can help us think critically and objectively about our ideas in order to determine whether we should continue to defend them, or whether we should let them go.
Ask for specific alternate solutions. If somebody has spoken up in order to disagree with your idea, he or she should be prepared to offer an alternative solution. It’s easy for others to criticize, but if they do so they should be able to back up their own ideas. For example, ask those who disagree to tell you which solutions they think would be better suited to solve a particular problem.
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