Below are some guidelines to help you turn a negative situation into a positive one.
First, acknowledge the type of disagreement you are having and check with your coworker that he sees it the same way.
Regardless of the nature of the quarrel, try to leave your emotions at the door. "Disagreements are best solved through objectivity rather than emotions,"
Preparation also includes careful consideration of logistics. Schedule your meeting so you will have enough time to reach a conclusion. Be sure the conversation can happen face to face in a private setting. Don't try to solve differences using email, which does not do a good job of conveying tone or nuance.
- Identify common ground
- Hear your coworker out
Even if you think you already understand your coworker's perspective, you should hear what he/ she has to say. Ask questions that help you fully understand her point of view and determine whether your disagreement is a function of differing interests or differing perceptions. According to Weiss, this requires that you "stop figuring out your next line" and actively listen. Don't just hearing her story but take it in as well. Remain open to persuasion since your coworker's explanation of her side may uncover an important piece of information that leads to a resolution.
Once you've heard your coworker out, share your own story. This should not be done in a "point, counter-point" way, but should focus on helping your coworker see where you're coming from. If she challenges your interpretation, let her vent and express her frustration.
- Propose a resolution
- When it goes badly...
If your coworker is antagonistic or aggressive, it may be best to take a break from the conservation. You can either literally step out of the room or pause mentally pause to observe the course of the conversation. This "outsider" observation can help you gain perspective on what's really going on. You may also try changing the process: step up to the white board, take out a piece of paper to brainstorm, or even offer to continue the discussion over drinks or dinner. This can help to alter the dynamic that's developed between you. If all else fails, withdraw and find a third person to mediate.
Principles to Remember
- Focus on shared goals and interests
- Understand the nature of your disagreement before meeting with your coworker
- Remain open to persuasion
- Assume you fully understand your colleague's perspective
- Try to solve a disagreement over email
- Stop your coworker from venting his frustrations