We live in strange times. People are losing their livelihoods and their lives from a global pandemic. Multinational consumer brands are tying themselves in embarrassing knots trying to navigate the fast-flowing current of political correctness.
There are so many issues that divide us as a society, it’s impossible to avoid them creeping into the workplace.
So how do you have a conversation about these huge topics that have the power to destroy friendships and break families apart?
First, set clear ground rules. It helps to remember the words of management guru Stephen Covey: “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” Make sure you listen and are listened to.
Debates become heated when emotions get in the way of facts. It’s best to nip them in the bud when they’re approaching the argument stage.
You can simply say, “Look, we both strongly believe in our positions, neither of us is prepared to concede, so let’s just agree to disagree.”
Or you can plead an upcoming meeting or an imminent call that needs your attention and agree to pick up again when passions are lower.
Above all, your relationships at work are worth more that winning a debate or dominating a conversation. Protect them at all costs.
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