How Can You Turn Disagreement Into An Advantage Without Making Others Feel Bad?

How Can You Turn Disagreement Into An Advantage Without Making Others Feel Bad?

Is disagreement annoying you or gets you excited? What happens if someone challenges you and how do you use it to improve?
It sounds good to accept disagreement but how to create an environment where people accept disagreement without creating a toxic environment?

In this podcast, we will discuss, why is it good if you have someone who challenges you? Also, how to encourage disagreement in the organisation as well as how to disagree without making others feel bad?

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Alfred P. Sloan was the mastermind behind the rise of General Motors during the 20th century.

Alfred Sloan is one of the best CEO in the history of the automobile industry.  He got the General Motors company out of bankruptcy. Under Sloan’s smart management, GM surpassed the Ford Motor Company in American automobile sales in the late 1920s and eventually became the largest business corporation in the world. When he joined General Motors, the company was near bankruptcy but he turned the whole company from almost bankruptcy to the most dominating automobile company in America.

He had a great way to find ideas to deal with challenges.

One day, during a committee meeting, Sloan interrupted with a question: “Gentleman, I take it we are all in complete agreement over here?” When everyone nodded, Sloan dismissed them: “Then I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until our next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain some understanding of what this decision is about.”

He asked people to come up with arguments to disagree.

It may sound strange because usually, we find that the top leader wants others to agree with him. But Alfred Sloan turned the company around and became one of the most successful CEO of a company.

Because he encouraged disagreement as something that helps them to move forward.

Disagreements lead to better decision making. It leads to better work. We all have blind spots. There are many things that others can see but we can never see. This is what causes a lot of failures and setbacks. In our culture and society, we have been asked to agree with people because we don’t want to make others feel bad about themselves.  And we don’t want to feel bad too.

We also want people to agree with us and we simply deny the points people disagree with.

In this podcast, we will find out how you can take advantage of disagreement. We will also discuss, how to encourage disagreement effectively without becoming toxic and leading to drama. We will talk about 3 things in this podcast,

  1. Why is it good to have someone who challenges you?
  2. How to encourage disagreement effectively?
  3. How to disagree without making others feel bad?

1. How do you react if someone is challenging you?

Will you get better or will you be annoyed?

There was a scientist called Robert Hooke. He was an English physicist and he was known for his discovery of the law of elasticity. It’s famously known as ‘Hooke’s law’. He was the curator of experiments in the Royal Society of London. He also built the first Gregorian Telescope and many more things.

But we are not here to talk about Robert Hooke only.

He is the reason why Isaac Newton has been one of the greatest scientists in history. Robert Hooke and Newton were working together. And Robert Hooke was questioning Newton because Hooke did not like Newton.

But Newton did not get upset.

Instead, he worked even harder on his projects. He spent even more time on finding more proof. He became better because there was always someone like Robert Hooke who was looking over the shoulder of Newton.

Questions lead to clarity.

We need someone who questions us. Doing something new is always complicated to explain. And that is good. When you introduce a new product or concept, not many people actually understand you. If you don’t have people or at least someone who ask you questions and challenge you, you will probably take longer to figure out what’s wrong with you or your product. Also, you will not know if you have taken the right decision or not.

You probably won’t even know if you are not challenged.

It’s difficult to be better. So, it’s good if there is someone who challenges you and you answer those challenges without feeling bad. But what if people bad and don’t want to make you feel bad when they disagree with you. Because in many cultures, it’s not allowed to disagree with people. How to deal with such a problem? Let’s find out in the second part, shall we?

2. How to encourage disagreement effectively?

How to encourage disagreement effectively?

In many cultures, it is not allowed to disagree with the superiors. It happened with Korean Air which is an official airline company of South Korea. A plane of Korena Air called Flight 801 crashed in 1997. When it was ready to land, the weather was not good. There was very limited visibility and the instrument landing system wasn’t working. The instrument landing system is a radio navigation system that guides the aircraft to approach a runway at night or in bad weather. 

So the plane got crashed and killed 228 people.

During the investigation, it was found from the recording of the BlackBox that one of the pilots disagreed with the decision. Instead of directly disagreeing, he used diplomatic language. He said, “Don’t you think it’s raining a lot?”

It sounds like he didn’t want to offend the other pilot.

The lives could’ve been saved if he had disagreed with clear instructions. It’s considered disrespectful to disagree with others in many organisations, society and countries. Most people avoid making others’ feel bad by disagreeing with them.  Korean Air had so many crashes between 1988 to 1998. The airline faced severe criticism for the poor safety issues. And it was mainly because nobody wanted to disagree with their teammates. 

They were asked to speak up and disagree.

This system was introduced by a retired president from Delta Airlines. He asked people to change the language of communication from Korean to English. It was crucial because the Korean language has not many words and phrases to disagree with others.

They strictly change this culture of worshipping the superior.

As a result, the errors were reduced dramatically. People developed the habit and culture of being assertive. And within just one year, means since 1999, Korean Air has zero crash record. They won awards for one of the safest airlines in the world.

To build a strong business, you must build a culture where anyone can disagree.

The company will never perform well where the superiors and bosses love to be surrounded by people who always agree with them. But there is also a danger of creating a toxic environment. People don’t always like to give and receive complaints. Some people love to complain all the time. So, how to disagree without feeling like complaining. Let’s discuss this in the last part of this podcast.

3. How to disagree without making others feel bad?

What’s the reason behind people get divorced?

We can fairly say that the couple leads to divorce because of anger issues. But an expert John Gottman has a different opinion. It’s not anger that causes the couple to get separated. It’s disrespect.

Divorce happens when a person disrespects the partner.

No relationship can thrive and turn out to be productive if they don’t respect each other. Whether it’s a family, friendship, business or organisation. In every organisation, to build a productive and healthy environment, everyone needs to respect each other. The team can not make a better decision when they don’t respect each other. If anyone thinks of being mighty and impossible to disagree with, there is no way they can make a better decision. 

John Gottman suggests the difference between ‘complaining’ and ‘Criticising’.

For example, How do you feel if someone tells you, “You didn’t clean your room and take out the trash.” And how do you feel if someone tells you, “You are too lazy and irresponsible. You didn’t bother to clean the room.”

You can disagree with others without blaming the character of the others.

When you disagree, focus on the task or the decision. Focus on creating a culture and environment where people are allowed to share their opinion without targeting the character of others. Moreover, encourage people to disagree without disrespecting others. No business or organisation can thrive by disrespecting others. 

Allow people to ask questions and challenge others.
At the same time, disagreement must not lead to a toxic relationship and culture. Encourage people to disagree and strongly discourage criticizing the person .


Read next: We have to do the work to run our business.

Find out, Why we don’t enjoy our work and how can we work without feeling bored?

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