Why Creating a Culture of Disagreement Can Help You Be More Successful
The two types of disagreements, why disagreements can be great, and how to create a culture of disagreement in your team
As a manager, I feel cautious when I suggest something to the team and do not get questions or disagreements. When I was working under managers and senior managers, I almost never disagreed with them — it could have been a cultural influence or something I learned when I was younger to not disagree with the authority. And maybe another part of it was that I don’t like disagreements.
But Adam Grant’s book, Think Again, made me, well, think again, about disagreements. And I realized that the right disagreement can make a tremendous impact on your work.
In this article, I will share:
- The two kinds of disagreements
- Why we don’t like disagreements
- Why disagreements can be great
- How to create a culture of disagreement in your team, whether you are a manager or an employee
The two kinds of disagreements
It surprised me to learn there are two kinds of disagreements — and if you have had any disagreements at all, either at work or home, you have likely experienced both kinds.
The first is what I call ego disagreements. These types of disagreements are a battle of egos. You present a solution, and your coworker shoots it down or pokes holes at it because they think their idea is better. Or you present an idea to your boss, and they focus on the negatives to show you they know better or they are more experienced.
The second is what I call opportunity disagreements. On the surface, if you were witnessing different disagreement conversations, you might feel these are the same. Your coworker shoots down your solution and pokes holes at it. Your boss focuses on the negatives. But the underlying difference is the other person is doing those things intending to strengthen your idea. They stress test your idea so that you can come away knowing your weaknesses, identifying additional opportunities, and having something stronger after.