Change in business is inevitable, and while the rationale may be good for the company, such changes and opinions might be unpopular with employees. When employees disagree with their manager, this can create tension in the workplace. Whether it’s a disagreement over the department reorganization or the way in which a project is completed, there will be times when employees have a different opinion about the ways things should be handled. This leaves managers with the daunting task of learning to listen and respect the opinions of their employees even if they don’t agree. It is important that those in management don’t undermine their employees by openly criticizing their opinions. At the same time, however, it’s perfectly acceptable to be open and honest about their own opinions. Although it can be a tough task, here are a few tips for respecting and accepting the opinions of others, even if you don’t agree.
Listen with an Open Mind
It is common for people to seek to “win” the argument when they encounter someone who has a different opinion. This can lead to hostility and tension. This is also not the most productive approach. Instead of getting aggressive and defensive when someone has a difference of opinion, you should try engaging in dialogue instead. There is certainly some reason why they feel the way they do and your job as a manager is to uncover that truth. Instead of simply dismissing their opinion, try listening with an open mind and seek to understand their perspective on the matter. When you listen to others, you gain new insights and perspectives. Start by saying something like, “That is interesting. Why do you feel that way?” Remember that just because you are listening to them doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them, but it does demonstrate respect and shows your willingness to listen to their point of view.
It is important to remember that everyone in the workplace comes from different backgrounds, cultures, and personal and professional experiences. There is much to be gained from listening to others and sharing your opinions. Not only does it let the employees know that their feelings and opinions are valued, but it might open your eyes to a fresh perspective.
Think Before You Speak
It sounds like the advice your mother gave you as a child, but it really is quite powerful. If you immediately respond by discrediting someone’s opinions, it can tarnish the working relationship. Rather, process the information and really think about what the other person said before you react. If you let your emotions get in the way, you will contribute to animosity in the workplace.
Try to Find Common Ground
It may seem impossible at first to acknowledge the validity of someone else’s argument, but as professional adults, we should be able to appreciate and respect the opinions of others. Aim to use facts, not emotions, to find something you can both agree on and then calmly explain your rationale.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
A good way to keep yourself from getting defensive right off the bat is to imagine how you would feel if you expressed an opinion and someone judged you for it. Just as you would not like to be attacked for your opinion, you should not attack or judge others. Whenever you find yourself feeling intolerant of someone else’s opinion, remember this rule and extend the same courtesy to them as you would expect.