Always address the point of the argument, NOT, the emotions attached to it. Example:
John is upset that his suggestions for improvements to an upcoming project weren’t adopted, so he vents his frustrations about being overlooked or undervalued. He lashes out at those around him and storms out of the meeting.
It’s easy to dismiss John as “having a tantrum” or “acting childish”. This is the quick way out of a discussion that continues to dismiss John and others who’ve made suggestions that weren’t acted upon.
How Do You Argue the Right Way?
Instead, evaluate John’s points on their merits and see if they can be tailored to the project. Do this before speaking to John again. Determine why his suggestions weren’t used.
- Were his points not valid?
- Would they cost too much to implement?
- Were they too similar to others already put in place or agreed on?
If the answers are no, then WHAT IS the reason John’s suggestions weren’t taken into consideration? And if it comes to it, how do you argue the right way?
Are There Deeper Issues to Address?
Maybe there are deeper issues to address than disciplining a valued team member who stormed out of a meeting.
- Is there favoritism shown to a select few?
- Is John not part of “the clique” who always gets the boss’s ear?
- Are some senior leaders threatened by this new and upcoming manager and want to “keep him in line” until they’ve “paid their dues”?
Again, if the answers to these questions are no, then why were none of John’s suggestions used?
You must have a good reason(s) and can justify it before addressing the situation with John. He does need to be spoken to. Not just for storming out of the meeting but to help him understand the reasons why his points weren’t implemented, assuming that’s the ultimate decision.
When you address the argument, John must be sure that:
- He is a valued member of the team
- His suggestions were taken seriously but were not appropriate for this project
- He will not be “punished” for his actions (unless they were egregious)
- His input is still welcomed for future projects
Some employees continuously look for ways to add value. Whether it’s by staying late to finish a project when all others have gone home or coming up with new innovative ways to tackle a nagging issue, their willingness to help must not be stifled. If this happens, some potentially bright and imaginative ideas will be forever lost because a “valued” employee was not allowed input or deemed a “non-favorite” office mate.
Arguments, disagreements, and competing ideas in business will always be there, and so will the methods to deal with them. The important thing is that we address the arguments the right way, so all sides are assured of their importance to the team.