Usually, there's more than one way to convert disagreement into agreement. Choosing one can be tricky, though, because we so rarely appreciate all of what separates us or what distinguishes our views. Here's a collection of insights that might help find a path from disagreement to agreement.
- If I don't think I can explain it to a child, maybe I don't fully understand it.
- If it's urgent, go slow.
- Accountability and blame are two very different things.
- The problem is not the problem. The coping is the problem. — Virginia Satir
- Questions are usually just questions. Even when they're counter-arguments in disguise, they're still opportunities for giving great answers.
- When people I work with closely get into tangles, I'm probably involved in at least a minor way. Minor might still be significant.
- In tangles, everyone has a role. Being a spectator is a role.
- The person we all acknowledge as being involved in the trouble is only the person we're all willing to acknowledge. There are certainly others.
- We probably aren't the first people in the world to get into this particular fix.
- Our differences in this situation might contain echoes of our differences in another situation. Maybe one key to this situation lies in the other one. Unlocking this one might require more than one key.
- Although there are some people at work who are actually trying to harm others, they are so rare that I probably don't know anyone like that.
- The number of people who hold a particular belief isn't an indication of the correctness of that belief.
- When I say something I later regret, I'm usually repeating a previous error.
- For resolving differences, face-to-face is best. Phone-to-phone is next best. Voicemail is nuts. Anything involving a keyboard is totally nuts.
- Nobody has an accurate view of everything. I might be mistaken on this.
- There is almost always more than one way out.
- When I think there is only one way out, I probably haven't thought about it enough.
- When I Differences and disagreements
are the doorways to growththink I've thought about it enough, and I still don't have a way out, I'm probably just tired. I take a break and try again later.
- If I think I don't know what I want, maybe going for what I really want is too scary.
- I can consider what to do about an unpleasant possibility without accepting that unpleasant possibility as inevitable.
- I can't actually unsee what I've seen.
- I can see in new ways things I've already seen in old ways.
- I can see for the first time things I've never seen before.
- I can see something for the first time only once.
- I can't unlearn what I've learned, but I can learn what I haven't yet learned.
- When somebody else seems to be trying mightily to make things worse, maybe I don't fully grasp what he or she is trying to accomplish.
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More articles on Conflict Management:
- Handling Heat: II
- Heated exchanges in meetings can compromise both the organizational mission and the careers of the meeting's
participants. Here are some tactics for people who aren't chairing the meeting.
- Impasses in Group Decision-Making: II
- When groups can't reach agreement on all aspects of an issue, the tactics of some members can actually
exacerbate disagreement. Here's Part II of an exploration of impasses, emphasizing two of the more toxic
- The Myth of Difficult People
- Many books and Web sites offer advice for dealing with difficult people. There are indeed some difficult
people, but are they as numerous as these books and Web sites would have us believe? I think not.
- Make Suggestions Privately
- Suggesting a better way of doing things can sometimes backfire surprisingly and intensely. Making suggestions
privately reduces that risk, but introduces a different risk.
- Grace Under Fire: III
- When someone at work seems intent on making your work life a painful agony, you might experience fear,
anxiety, or stress that can lead to a loss of emotional control. Retaining composure is in that case
the key to survival.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
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- Some working groups consist of experts from many fields. When they must reach a decision by consensus, members have several options. Defining those options in advance can help the group reach a decision with all its relationships intact. Available here and by RSS on July 8.
- And on July 15: Disjoint Concept Vocabularies
- In disputes or in problem solving sessions, when we can't seem to come to agreement, we often attribute the difficulty to miscommunication, histories of disagreements, hidden agendas, or "personality clashes." Sometimes the cause is much simpler. Sometimes the concept vocabularies of the parties don't overlap. Available here and by RSS on July 15.
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Decision-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.