6 Tips on How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable in the Tech Industry There are ways to disagree with others without being perceived as disagreeable. Here's how.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
By definition, being disagreeable is to act in an unfriendly and bad-tempered way, often motivating negative feedback from others. People in the technology industry spend most of their time hunkering down with different technologies, which does not help improve their communication skills. However, they often have to debate the application of these creations with peers from various industries. It is essential to pass your point to the opposing team as a technology and business specialist without sounding unfriendly or bad-tempered. As a tech-savvy individual, you can expect to have disagreements about the impact of your creations on the lives of regular Tom, Dick and Harrys. Here are a few ways you can disagree without being disagreeable:
1. Practice active listening
The first rule of having a meaningful conversation is to listen. Give your colleague a chance to speak. You should not just listen, though. You need to listen keenly and process what the other person is saying. It's no secret that people in the tech industry are more innovative than most people. Their high intelligence can make them feel like they do not have anything to learn from anyone. You can always learn something new about the subject matter during a debate, mainly because the tech industry constantly evolves and further information is available. You will also notice that actively listening to your counterpart gives you ideas on how to respond to their statement.
Related: How to Disagree the Right Way
2. Don't take it personally
Often, when we disagree with others, and they come off as rude and indifferent, it has nothing to do with us. Taking the high road every single time is the best way to disagree without being disagreeable. If you match a rude colleague, you will undoubtedly escalate the matter, and no one wants that in the workplace.
3. Don't just oppose your counterpart
When disagreeing, you need to try to identify areas of your counterpart's argument that you completely agree with, and tell them that you support those parts. You can also use phrases like "That is great thinking" or "I think you are quite talented, and I admire your work," which will help bring down the tension and help you win the argument. It wouldn't hurt if you went into details about specific things about them that you admire, as long as you do not derail the conversation. Remember, there is always something good to find in everyone.
Related: 7 Steps for Keeping Conflict Healthy
4. Get the facts straight
Starting an argument based on untrue or unverified facts makes you look incompetent and is, quite frankly, embarrassing. It is also unfair for your colleagues when you start a debate without doing your due diligence beforehand. If you do not have all the facts, it is wise to excuse yourself from a discussion and finish the conversation later when you have all the necessary information.
5. Look and act in a pleasant manner
You've probably heard this before: The first thing people notice is how you look. Are you well-dressed? Are you exceptionally well-groomed? Are your nails well-cut, and your hair comped? These are small factors that go a long way in helping you win arguments. You have already won half the battle if you look well-put together and act pleasantly. Dressing in a presentable manner might be hard for people in the tech industry, because they spend most of their time working with computers and often have little time to dedicate to their wardrobe. There are many ways to update your wardrobe. One of them is to get someone to shop and dress you, and the other is to dedicate a few hours each week to take care of your appearance. Self-care is essential for your mental health as well as winning disagreements.
6. Agree to disagree
You may not always reach an amicable resolution to your arguments. If it's possible, agree to disagree, and move on. If shrugging it off is not an option, try calling in a third party to help you choose a way forward that benefits most parties. Involving a third party may also bring in a new perspective, helping you find common ground. If a third party does not allow you to find common ground, then the client's wish should be honored. As they say, the client is always right. However, if the tech company cannot meet the client's needs, then it's only fair to terminate the contract and let them seek services elsewhere.
The tech industry is diverse, spanning different countries and defying cultural and language barriers. To forge meticulous working relationships with others, you must implement the strategies mentioned above when handling disagreements. Being disagreeable may lead to information being lost in translation, poor quality services/products, and worse, contracts being terminated, which can lead to strained professional relationships. The value of expert communication skills can't be underestimated in the tech industry.