How to Have a Productive Disagreement During a Zoom Meeting

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Photo: Dusan Petkovic, Shutterstock
Photo: Dusan Petkovic, Shutterstock

Maybe you’re one of those people who thrives on confrontation and enjoys a good argument. Or perhaps you’re someone who tries to avoid people and situations like those at all costs, and then gets mad at yourself for not speaking up when you disagreed with someone. Either way, when you’re collaborating with others at work, disagreements are bound to happen. Though they may be awkward in the moment, they’re also part of an effective decision-making process, according to Anne Sugar at Forbes.

And while debating something in person is one thing, doing so virtually can be especially challenging. Here are some tips from Sugar for making your Zoom disagreements as productive as possible.

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First, build trust

Before you get to the point of having disagreements, Sugar says that you need to build trust among your team first. If you’re the leader, make sure that your colleagues know you care about them by actually demonstrating it — that way they know not to take work disagreements personally.

Here’s more from Sugar:

Building a caring landscape takes a considerable amount of time and effort. One of the easiest ways to create this atmosphere is to focus on small details and make simple gestures; for instance, ask how a direct report’s day is going and give specific feedback on your direct report’s work. This approach means spending extra time in your one-to-one meetings to ask more questions and offer coaching. All of these small details add up to a caring work environment where disagreement is not a threat.

Don’t rush it

Most people (understandably) want to finish Zoom meetings as soon as possible. But if a disagreement pops up, Sugar recommends taking enough time to actually talk it through. No, this doesn’t mean sitting back and watching unhealthy and unhelpful arguments — just give people space to disagree and feel heard.

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Have everyone come to the meeting with multiple ideas

Sugar says that she once worked for a person who required all meeting attendees to show up with three ideas to solve some of the company’s most pressing problems. This way, if there was a disagreement, the leader could ask people for their other ideas, presenting additional options for solutions. “If you’ve reached an impasse with your team, take a pause and invite team members to reconvene with more possible solutions to the problem,” she recommends.

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