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Are you Emotionally Intelligent while expressing Disagreement?

Women have come a long way in the workplace since the early part of their work history and yet, the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 published by the World Economic Forum has some startling numbers that makes us rethink a whole lot of things.

“No way! You’re wrong!”

“I don’t think so.”

“You make no sense!”

“I’m afraid I disagree.”

“You don’t even know what you’re talking about!”

“I’d say the exact opposite.”

Sounds familiar? These are things we’ve either heard other people say or said it ourselves in an argument isn’t it?

Life would be so much different if we lived in a perfect world where everyone agreed with each other just like that. But it is no secret that when an opinion is raised, it is only natural to have active or passive disagreement from the other side.  

Research shows that the ability to resolve disagreements in the proper manner can help result in positive relationships in the workplace and improve mutual respect.

Tensions that exist between people in disagreement can cause uncomfortable situations, affecting productivity and resulting in wasted time. The most obvious and easily recognizable form of disagreements are with words, either written or spoken. But some people might express their disagreement through facial expressions and body language too.

Passion that drives people is something to cherish. But, it is important to not let them result in a heated argument that undermines your personality. Being more mindful about how we disagree can be a good way to demonstrate our emotional intelligence.

The most important thing that you can do at a point of disagreement is to stay calm.

Stay calm? Sounds like an ‘easier said than done’ situation doesn’t it?

Staying calm not only helps you gather your thoughts and present your points rationally. It also enables the other person to listen to what you have to say and consider understanding your point of view.

In many situations disagreements can get personal, attacking the other person due to conflicts that may have risen in the past. In such cases, it is crucial to avoid any personal bias affecting the argument in question. If the other person does get personal with their arguments, Dale Carnegie’s principle #10 provides the best solution. The principle states ‘The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. 

With that being said, disagreements need not always be a bad thing. Learning to deal with disagreements in the right manner can help alleviate yourself as a person in any social situation.  

When it does come to a point of disagreement, there are ways in which one can do it agreeably. Dale Carnegie talks about six rules that help in mastering the art of disagreement.

Rule #1: Give others the benefit of the doubt

Understanding what the other person is saying not only creates the impression that you respect the other person in the conversation, but gives you direction about how to carry the conversation forward. This leads us to the next rule.

Rule #2: Be sure to listen and truly understand why they believe what they do.

Different people have different perspectives, some of which may not be very obvious to everyone. Before you present your rationale, take a second to think if there is a point of view that you may have missed out on.

Rule #3: Take responsibility for what you say.

Begin with ‘I’ rather than ‘You’ to avoid the tone of placing blame on the other person. Instead of saying “You always give me last minute work when you know I need to leave early!”, you can try saying “I’m sorry but I had informed you earlier that I need to leave early today. Can we take this up first thing in the morning?”

Rule #4: When there’s a difference of opinion, begin your counter argument with a “cushion”.

A cushion can be something like “I appreciate your view…” or  “I hear what you’re saying….” 

Rule #5: When you have used a cushion, acknowledge the other person’s opinion without using words like ‘however, or ‘but’. It can erase the acknowledgement that you have just made.

Rule #6: Use evidences that are relatable for the other person

Make sure that you do not present points that cannot be corroborated. It will not only compromise your argument but also diminish the credibility of what you say going forward.

“When you win an argument, most often you lose a relationship”. You could always end an argument with loud words and an angry voice. But there’s so much more to lose than gain in such a situation. Dale Carnegie’s principle states that just like you are trying to further your own interests, so are other people. Remember to emphasize how the other person will benefit. Disagreeing agreeably can create a positive environment in which people can thrive without the thought of being disrespected when they present their opinions. Being helpful and considerate establishes a foundation for times where conflicts do arise. 

But hey, if you do think otherwise, let’s agree to disagree, shall we?

This means that there is an acute need for leaders today to be aware of who they are and what they stand for. It is this shift in mindset that gave rise to a concept integral to the realm of leadership and management – ‘Self Awareness’. 

To be self-aware is to be conscious of the various aspects of yourself – from emotions and behaviours to traits, biases, and aspirations. Put simply, it is about paying attention to yourself, noticing the little details, and being honest about it. 

By this definition, self-awareness sounds like something everyone should practice. And it is! However, different disciplines demand different levels and types of self-awareness. The Dale Carnegie Course® is geared towards leaders and answers the ‘Hows’ and ‘Whys’ of it.

That being said, learning about self awareness isn’t enough. Self awareness needs to be practiced in order to hone the 5 drivers of leadership success. Here’s how it helps:

  •  Self awareness builds self confidence.

Self-awareness brings forth new insights that help identify, strategise around, and/or confront strengths, weaknesses, and fears. With this information, depending on where they are in their career, leaders can start building their leadership skills or focus on finessing specific areas of it. Understanding one’s limitations also allows leaders to foresee and plan to combat roadblocks that may arise. This helps reduce stress and boosts the leader’s ability to perform at their optimum best.

  •  Self awareness improves communication and interpersonal skills.

Once you start noticing them, patterns in human behaviour seem to arise everywhere. By working towards self-awareness, leaders automatically nurture empathy, confidence, and a genuine desire to create an environment conducive to other people’s growth and development. They also begin to inculcate important Dale Carnegie principles like #17 ‘Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view’ and #12 ‘If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically’; all of which empower leaders to communicate better, and build honest connections. 

  • Self awareness empowers leaders to manage attitudes and stress – both theirs and others’. 

Leaders that are constantly working towards self-awareness have a better handle on their capabilities, work ethics, skills and shortcomings. Self-awareness, therefore, allows them to look at themselves and the situation from an objective viewpoint.  Taking this step back not only opens doors for leaders to work towards fulfilling the various roles they may be required to play – from mentor to team member – but also empowers them to recognize factors of stress and deal with them with careful consideration and ease, outside the realm of emotions. It also helps leaders identify and concentrate on others’ strengths and set them on the path that best suits the organisation while also helping them achieve their individual goals in a seamless and stress-free manner.  

  • Self awareness elevates leadership competence. 

By making sounder decisions, building confidence in the self, and modelling desirable behaviours through self-awareness, leaders can positively influence the attitudes of those around them. They can inspire people to act and think differently, and maybe even start them on their journey to self-awareness! After all, a leader is and will always be someone who can create opportunities for growth and change by inspiring others, taking initiative and building the foundation for everyone’s success. 

So go on! Take this knowledge and work towards equipping yourself with the self-awareness required to expand your ingenuity, build team harmony and inclusivity, and drive performance. And always remember these pearls of truth:

‘We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.’ – Dale Carnegie