How Should I Handle People Who Disagree With My Safety Rules?

How to Handle With People Who Disagree With Your Safety Rules

Date Posted: 15th April 2021

Are you having trouble with people who disagree with your safety rules?

How do you persuade people to follow safety rules or accept safety rules when they don’t want to?

I recently did a short video on how forcing people to do things they don’t want to do actually creates resistance and backfires, and I got some questions and comments from people asking how do you deal with challenging people? Those stubborn people who are negative. Who refuse to accept safety rules safety systems. Who don’t want to do things. 

And that could be frontline people, managers, and even senior managers.

Well here’s one of many ways, I would start by listening to them. I know that sounds a little bit too easy and too simple, but I liked how Nick Girling (Nick Girling Associates) put this in one of his videos (which he was kind enough to let us use in our Managing People Effectively online course), he describes listening as a kind of superpower that can transform your relationships with other people, and your performance and your team’s performance. 

And if I’m speaking with someone who disagrees with what I’m saying, who disagrees with what I want them to do or someone who might disagree with my safety rules, the first thing I would do is listen to them intensely. 

When they disagree with your safety rules, listen to them intently.

I first came across this idea in Stephen Covey’s: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of his habits was: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. And that’s kind of been repeated over the decades in many books. 

And lately I read Jordan Peterson’s: 12 Rules for Life, and in there he’s got a rule on this where he says: Listen to the other person as if they know something that you don’t. 

So you have to be humble and honest with this approach. You can’t just listen to them with the intention of persuading them that they are wrong, they will feel that and they will sense it and it’s a little bit dishonest and manipulative. 

Instead, we should listen to learn with genuine curiosity and perhaps even we should repeat back to them what we’ve understood. We should repeat back what we think they’ve said, and not in a journalistic way where we say: “oh, so what you’re saying is this…” and you twist their words. You should genuinely repeat what you believe they meant and check that you’ve understood them. 

Why should you listen to those who disagree with your safety rules?

You might be thinking: if they’re spouting absolute nonsense, why should I give them any time? I’m right and they’re wrong!

Well here’s the thing, if you aren’t prepared to listen to them, why should they listen to you?

This is one of the fundamentals of building relationships. Again, it’s some something we talk about in our online Managing People Effectively course: 

How do we build relationships? 

Well one of the ways is, we have to let go of our ego and be prepared to listen to people intensely. We have to validate their views (to some extent). We have to accept that their views may be valid. This will help that person feel validated, valued, respected. 

Why build relationships?

That they are much more likely to listen to you and to validate your views, to give you the time to express yourself, and whilst that by itself won’t persuade them, it will make the conversation much more likely to go in a positive direction where you can come to some kind of mutual agreement. 

There are many other things I could say on the topic, but that’s enough for now.

Look after yourselves!