How to Disagree with a Group without Alienating Yourself

Picture this: your manager has called a team meeting to discuss an issue that is critical to the future of the group.  You walk into the conference room with hesitation.  You know by talking to other people that your opinion on how to proceed diverges considerably from that of the majority.  You don’t want to make waves unnecessarily, but you also feel strongly about your point of view.  What should you do?

Don’t Assume You Have to Capitulate

The fact that your co-workers are agreeing on a decision doesn’t make it the correct one.  Actually, blind group think is one of the worst things about collaborative work environments.  Although it may be uncomfortable to do so, sharing an enlightened alternative is your responsibility as someone who has the best interests of the organization at heart.

Don’t Wait Until the End

Be sure to bring up your concerns early in the conversation, because there is nothing more annoying than a naysayer who pops in at the last minute to wreck havoc on a carefully thought-out action plan.

State the Facts and Remind Them of the Big Picture

Show appreciation for your co-workers’ input and ideas – you will lose credibility if you dismiss the current solution out of hand.  Then, calmly state why you disagree, using hard facts instead of subjective opinions whenever possible.  Remind the group of the end goal and illustrate why your solution will be best for the team and the organization.

Don’t Go on the Defensive

There is strength in numbers.  It will be easier for team members to attack your point of view if they are all on one side and you’re on the other.  Don’t allow the discussion to turn into a brawl.  At the end of the day, this is a work issue and is not a matter of life or death.

Be Prepared to Compromise

Hopefully, the group will be amenable to some of your suggestions, but it’s unrealistic to think that you will turn everyone around 100 percent.  And if your boss has a point of view that differs from yours and she’s sticking to it, you may have to give in eventually.  Think about what’s most important to you, and bargain for those aspects.  Then, walk away with your head up.  It’s not an easy thing to stand up for what you believe, and you’ve done it.  Good work.

Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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