Where do you look for solutions to handle workplace disagreements? It’s probably not Washington, DC, where they are more likely to teach you how to lose friends and alienate people. Unfortunately, our congressional leaders are not models of enlightened debate, contributing to their abysmal approval rating of 15%.
But don’t despair, because help is available from another unlikely source, the Community Foundation of Duluth, Minnesota, that created a program called the Speak Your Peace Civility Project. It was founded in Duluth’s summer of discontent in 2003, “when debates raged over everything,” according to a recent editorial in the Duluth News Tribune. It went on to note that, “The mayor then even coined a new and unfortunate phrase: “CAVE” people, or “Citizens Against Virtually Everything.”
The final straw was when a group of millennials surveyed by the Foundation said they would never become engaged in public debate because of its divisions. Something had to be done, and the Foundation came up with nine simple tools for practicing civility. With the entry of millennials into managerial ranks in workplaces across North America, it seems to me that the ideas apply perfectly there, too:
9 Ways to Handle Workplace Disagreements
Be aware and attend to the world and the people around you.
Focus on others in order to better understand their points of view.
Welcome all groups of citizens working for the greater good of the community.
And don’t accept when others choose to do so.
Honor other people and their opinions, especially in the midst of disagreement.
Look for opportunities to agree; don’t contradict just to do so.
Be sincere and repair damaged relationships.
Give Constructive Criticism
When disagreeing, stick to the issues and don’t make a personal attack.
Don’t shift responsibility and blame onto others; share disagreements publicly.
As the Speak Your Peace website points out, “This is not a campaign to end disagreements. It is a campaign to improve public discourse by simply reminding ourselves of the very basic principles of respect.”
Take Your Workplace Communications to the Next Level
I think this is a great concept to apply to all workplace communications. It’s something that we at Marlin try to incorporate into our content for our workplace digital signage. Take a look at what our content can do to help boost morale in your workplace. And if any politicians in Washington are listening (point #2 above), I’d advise you to take a look, too.