Tips for handling objections and understanding differences of opinion
Ensuring you have a process in place for dealing with employee differences helps with the smooth running of your business. Be sure to use the top tips below…
At some point or another, you’ll be faced with objection in the workplace. In an environment made up of many different personalities, work ethics, and attitudes, it’s bound to happen. Avoiding differences in opinion is near-impossible, and certainly not conducive to attaining a resolution if things do end up boiling over.
Rather than shirking away from tensions, ensuring you have a process for dealing with differences in opinions and objections in place is much more beneficial to the smooth running of both your working day and your business as a whole. Finding a middle ground between the direct and indirect approach helps to defuse potentially explosive situations and keeps everybody happy.
Here, we run through some useful tips to help you handle objections in the workplace.
One of the most important things about addressing disagreements and differences is not to make assumptions. It’s easy to draw conclusions when rumblings and rumours abound, but it’s hugely important to gain a full understanding of the issue before responding.
First of all, you might need to make sure you aren’t dealing with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issue such as workplace harassment or discrimination. If it is, you should familiarise yourself with your company’s harassment prevention policies and guidelines, if you aren’t already. And if you don’t have any in place, then prioritise them!
Once you’ve ruled out the possibility of it being an EEOC problem, it’s worth considering if there are any underlying circumstances that may be causing or exacerbating the issue. Is it a clash of working styles? Are there deadlines looming? Perhaps the office environment is a stressful one. You may have to get honest with yourself if you’re to get the root of the issue, but it’s an important part of reducing problems amongst your employees.
Invite constructive criticism
Honest and open lines of dialogue are hugely beneficial in any workplace, helping team members understand that having differing viewpoints is acceptable. Some workplaces can perpetuate the myth that objecting to established opinions is taboo, but such a mindset is often restrictive to the business as a whole.
Invite all levels of the organisation to share any constructive criticism they may have about workplace practices. This will help decision-makers open up to new viewpoints, and make the process of handling objections simpler and more standardised. If the criticism can lead to positive results it should be invited at all levels of the organisation.
An environment of debate and constructive feedback can also ensure that objections are far less jarring for the recipient – helping them use the criticism to assist their output. When it is established that objections and constructive criticism can a positive step for the business, your team will be welcoming feedback with open arms.
Keep a cool head
When faced with objections, many people have a tendency to let their emotions bubble over and go in all guns blazing, whatever the problem may be. Differing opinions can lead to arguments that then become a game of one-upmanship. And while it can be tempting to try and get the upper hand, whether it’s a charged email or a heated argument, it’s certainly something we’d advise against.
If the unprofessionalism doesn’t come back to get you, then the embarrassment will. There’s a great deal of relief to be felt knowing you resisted the temptation to explode and escalate the situation when it really wasn’t necessary. Calm down, take a breath and look at the bigger picture before you formulate a response.
Pick your battles
In a stressful environment where everybody’s busy, trifling matters and differences in opinion can quickly become overblown. Consider if the objection is fair and justified or if you’re still in the right. If it is justified, allow the objection to shape the resolution.
However, if you’re convinced you’re in the right – you should definitely stand your ground and ensure the outcome is what’s best for the company.
Avoid the blame game
When resolving a difference of opinion, it can be easy to blame other parties for the dispute. However, this only serves as a diversion, and shirking responsibility is never a good idea. Focusing on the problem itself is a better method for effective and efficient conflict resolution, which brings us on to…
Listen to both sides
If you’re in a managerial role and have to involve yourself in resolving others’ conflicts, then listening to both parties in the proper, intent manner is important. While you may have heard rumours throughout the office, you mustn’t be swayed by hearsay and gossip, so hearing out what the parties have to say is necessary. Whether you see each person individually or together, give them the time to tell their side without interruption. And be sure to encourage them to articulate the message in a calm, considered manner. There’s a chance tempers have already flared, so it’s necessary not to let them reach boiling point once more.
A good manager will approach the situation without biases or preconceived notion, and allow each the time to speak on the issue thoroughly. Be sure to listen to them properly without, and don’t start to formulate a response while they’re still talking. Only after you’ve heard the facts should you begin to get a sense of how to respond. And whatever you do, don’t take sides as this will only serve to make things worse, and showing preference is never a good look for a manager.
It’s the problem, not the person
Everybody has different perspectives and ways of doing things, and convincing anyone to change their ways is a tough ask. Distance the personality from the problem. Accusations and character assassinations aren’t going to help, even directed towards the most difficult colleagues in the office. Catch yourself before you say something you’ll regret, and analyse the root of the problem.
Above all, remember that different opinions often present an opportunity to learn. Use them as case studies in team-building exercises, look for the positives in the situation and build on their resolutions in the appropriate manner.
Lead by example
It’s important for managers to set the standard for their employees. Creating a culture of engagement and respect starts from the top. By speaking to your employees in an honest and respectful manner, it allows an environment of integrity to flourish, with the courteous communication going both ways as a result.
If there’s a company culture in place, then you’re duty-bound as a manager to hold up the values, policies and guidelines that are in place. Through reinforcing the culture, leading by example becomes unconscious and automatic. And by not expecting anything from your employees that you wouldn’t require of yourself, building up trust and respect logically follows.
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