When it comes to dealing with conflict in the workplace, it’s safe to say that towing the line between “assertive” and “aggressive” often feels like a tightrope walk, especially if you’re a woman. However, real innovation and change happens when people argue. Arguments and resolving misunderstandings are critical ingredients to innovative solutions. So, how do you go about creating a dynamic where constructive arguments are welcomed rather than perceived negatively? Below are some tips on how to create safe spaces for debates.
Tip 1: Be extremely clear about the problem you are bringing to the table. More often than not, arguments occur because someone misunderstands the objective at hand. Talk about why you are working together on an issue and what the ideal outcome will be. If you both know the topic of discussion and are focused on the same purpose it will be easier to solve the problem. Good communication is paramount to problem solving, and is absolutely necessary when coming to an agreement about an in-office issue or challenge.
Tip 2: Approach each argument as a learning experience. When both parties can put aside pride and realize the end goal is not about being right the debate can be much more constructive. It can get tricky when you are dealing with peers at the office, because you may be gunning for the same promotion. To help gain their trust, be sure you see things from their perspective as well. Build relationships and trust before you go straight to debate. Don’t have a hidden agenda.
Tip 3: Advocate for your point of view because even though the argument may not be about being right, it doesn’t mean you aren’t correct in some aspects. You have to get comfortable with standing up for your opinions. You have to be explicit about your point of view because it allows others to understand it and keeps the conversations from becoming too personal.