Arguing in the workplace generally isn’t seen to be a positive thing for your career prospects, and there’s certainly times when you really need to avoid getting into a heated debate.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should be a pushover, because there are times when an argument at work can be productive for all concerned, but only when it is managed properly.
Luckily, a new guide has been created to show you how to prepare for an argument, how to conduct yourself during it and what you can do afterwards to ensure that everyone benefits from it. So here’s how you can have a productive argument at work:
Before the Argument
You can tell when an argument is brewing at work. There may be an issue that isn’t being resolved quickly enough, or a debate that is starting to turn nasty. This is when you need to get working to avoid it becoming a problem, and the first step is to move quickly by scheduling a meeting to have a formal discussion.
Gather facts and supporting evidence for your position beforehand, because while a productive argument doesn’t necessarily mean one that you win, you need to make sure you get your point across properly.
Keep your argument simple instead of overcomplicating things and take some time to understand the opposing point of view before you speak to them, so you can understand their motivations.
During the Argument
This is the really crucial stage, because if the argument goes badly, working relationships could be irreparably damaged, so how you conduct yourself is key. Don’t raise your voice, don’t throw blame around and keep your body language positive by keeping your arms relaxed at your sides to show that you are open to what is being said.
In terms of discussing your position, using visual aids can be a big help because it helps people to focus on and understand your argument. This can be as simple as drawing up lists on a whiteboard or using post-it notes. And finally, to keep the conversation flowing, make sure you ask open-ended questions to help people in the room open up about their feelings.
After the Argument
With all of the tips you’ve read so far, you should have been able to have a productive argument, but there’s still work to be done to be sure that everyone can move forwards together. This could start with saying sorry if you need to, because the sooner this is done, the better. Get everyone to review and rate the meeting afterwards so you can all learn from it.
If the argument hasn’t been productive and there are still some lingering issues, you may need additional professional assistance from a mediator or a member of the HR team. This will help you all work through the remaining problems in a safe and respectful space, for the benefit of everyone.
With these tips, you should be in a better position to turn potentially damaging situations into positive arguments that keep the workplace a happy and productive place.