Bossy? Assertive? Argumentative? Are these traits that keep you quiet in workplace debates? If so, you’re not alone. There are a countless number of employees that simply agree with ideas, plans, or concepts to make things easier and to avoid being labelled as bossy, assertive or argumentative. It takes a certain level of confidence and courage to put yourself out there and debate an idea that’s been presented by a co-worker. There is however, ways to do this that won’t have you labelled negatively, instead they will have you labelled as a reliable source to share an honest opinion, not simply a “yes man.”
So how can you share your honest opinion while maintaining the respect and admiration of your fellow co-workers? Here are five things to keep in mind next time you’d like to voice your opinion.
1. Don’t make it personal
When you question someone’s ideas they often get defensive and take your criticism personally. It’s important to communicate that you understand where they are coming from, or why they came to a certain conclusion, and then provide thoughtful feedback as to why you’re approaching the concept differently. This will allow you both to discuss the idea a little bit differently without disrespecting anyone’s idea or having it feel like it’s a personal attack.
2. Provide adequate back up
If you’re confident that you have a better solution to the problem or concept then it’s essential you do your homework to back yourself up. Refuting a coworkers idea without any suggestions or well thought out explanations can make you appear arrogant. Know what you want to say before you say it, and be prepared to explain exactly why you’re disagreeing.
3. Ask questions
If there is an idea you disagree with, start by asking questions to ensure you fully understand it. Inquiring about how they arrived at their conclusion will help you better understand their idea, or at the very least, give you a stronger platform to advocate your idea from.
4. Watch your tone
We are cautious how we speak to others every day, however sometimes when debates get heated, people lose their consciousness of this and their tone itself is what triggers a debate. Be calm and patient when trying to present a new idea. Like you, your colleague has put thought and effort into their idea and it needs to be respected as much as yours.
5. Know when to walk away
Your opinion won’t always be chosen. You may be confident that your idea is a strong one, but upper management may have a reason for going a different route. If you’ve explained your idea, and thoroughly explained your concerns with the other option then leave it at that and walk away. You’ll maintain respect from your coworkers for stating your idea and avoid being labeled as hard headed or argumentative.