Are You in a Disagreement With Your Manager?
Are you in a disagreement with your manager? If you are trying to influence someone, or trying to get them to agree with what you say and support your initiative, this can sometimes end up in a bit a bit of a debate. And it’s really important to avoid disagreement, because every time you disagree directly and overtly, you kind of lose them in some way. So where possible, try and agree, (even if it’s just a partial agreement).
But how you follow this up is really important. There’s a word that you need to eliminate from your vocabulary (at the time, at least), and that word is “BUT”. Eliminate this word, we’re going to replace this word with another word. So how does this work? Here’s an example:
Someone once told me that their manager didn’t want to grit the car park in winter because they thought it was going to increase the risk of some kind of personal injury claim. They thought that if they gritted the car park and someone slipped, that they would be the one held responsible. So what we do?
Well, we’re not going to disagree with that directly, because that would take us into an argument. So what we’re going to start with is to start by agreeing, and we say, “yes”. We’re not agreeing with what they’ve said. We’re just agreeing that it’s a valid way of seeing things. We’re agreeing that it’s understandable that they might think this.
You could say something like this: “Yes. Lots of people think that. I’ve read that in the newspaper, people who grit outside their house, and if someone slips, they’re afraid of people claiming against them”.
Now, at this point, we’re tempted to use the word: BUT. However, the problem with this word is that it directly disagrees with them. It actually distracts all of the attention from the positive stuff you’ve just said, and it focuses all of the attention on the negative thing that you’re about to say next.
So think of a time when someone said to you: “yeah, I agree…but”, or “yeah, I hear what you say… but”, or “yeah, I know what you mean…but”
Did it feel like you were being agreed with? Did it feel like you were being listened to? No, it didn’t feel that way at all.
That’s what the word BUT does. People might agree with you, but as soon as they say the word BUT it feels like they’re not. So it increases the feeling of conflict in your conversation, which you don’t want.
So here’s the thing you need to do, replace the word BUT with an: “I agree with you. AND I hear what you say”.
And notice how that changes how the conversation feels. It removes that perception of conflict, of disagreement, makes the conversation go a bit more smoother. For example:
Manager: “I don’t want to grit the car park because I think it’s going to increase the risk of some kind of personal injury claim. If we grit the car park and someone slips, then I would be the one held responsible”.
You: “Yes, lots of people think that. I’ve read that in the newspapers. People are afraid of being sued if they grit car parks outside their houses. AND what I learned recently was that, in fact, this is just a myth. It’s not actually true. What I learned is that, in fact, the law gives you quite a lot of defence against people who might be claiming against you because they slipped in your car park”.
What you’ll find is that your conversations will go so much more smoother and you are much less likely to degenerate into arguments, which, let’s face it, do absolutely nothing to drive performance forward. Not unless you’ve got an absolutely fantastic relationship with a person and a bit of conflict is sometimes very useful. But most of the time, people arguing with managers doesn’t lead to anything particularly constructive. So give that a go.
Remember to practice it as well. Get in to make this a habit.
We have a lot more useful tips just like this one in our Managing People Effectively course, check it out here.
Enjoy your day. Catch you later.