4 Rules to Help Your Team Disagree Productively


Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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Conflict can be uncomfortable, but we can’t find the best ideas or reach the best solutions if we agree with each other all the time. As a manager, it’s your job to help team members learn how to disagree productively. Here are some rules for keeping debates professional and on topic:
  • Remember you’re all on the same team. The goal of the conversation isn’t for one person to be proven right or to “win” the argument. The goal is to solve the problem at hand — together.
  • Stick to facts. Make sure people are defending their ideas with clear, sound logic, not with rhetorical tactics or by being the loudest.
  • Don’t make it personal. No name-calling, personal attacks, or questions like “How could you believe that?” Assume that everyone’s intentions are good.
  • Be intellectually humble. Respect everyone’s viewpoints, and be open to changing your mind when necessary.

Adapted from “How to Debate Ideas Productively at Work,” by Shane Snow

I presume to add two other points: First, principled dissent is essential to productive discussion; also, argumentation (i.e. persuasion with logic and/or evidence) and should not be confused with argument.

Here’s a direct link to dozens of other Management Tips.



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