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Is It Possible to Agree to Disagree?

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It is!

But why are so many of us afraid of confrontation?  One definition is “a meeting of persons face-to-face”…what’s so negative about that?

Yet I hear regularly from employees who are afraid of raising concerns with their boss (e.g. being paid the same as  a low performing colleague) and from managers who are nervous about raising concerns with their team (e.g. holding low performers accountable).

Lots has been written about the differences in male and female communication styles (e.g. Deborah Tannen, author of “You Just Don’t Understand:  women and men in conversation” amongst other titles). 

A number of organizations (e.g. St. Stephens Community House) offer hands-on Conflict or Dispute Resolution programs. 

For readers, two books that are excellent resources are:   ”Crucial Conversations:  tools for talking when stakes are high” and “Crucial Confrontations:  tools for resolving broken promises, violated expectations and bad behaviour”  by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler. 

So what’s a crucial conversation?  It’s any discussion, personal or professional, where there are opposing opinions, strong emotions and/or high stakes. 

And what’s a crucial confrontation?  The authors say “to confront is to hold someone accountable, face to face”.  What’s negative about accountability?!  They contend, when confrontations are handled correctly, “both parties talk openly and honestly.  Both are candid and respectful”.  As a result “problems are resolved, relationships benefit”. 

Both books are easy to read and have been endorsed by other compelling business authors like Stephen R. Covey (“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”), Ken Blanchard (“The One Minute Manager”) and Tom Peters (“In Search of Excellence”). 

As with most things, the anticipation of dealing with an issue is far worse than actually digging in and strategizing how to resolve it.  The techniques showcased in these books are practical to apply;  millions of individuals and managers swear they’ve  changed the way they communicate…for the better.

If you don’t yet have a book club at work, these two books would get you off to a very good start!