Thursday, January 21, 2016

Early-Career Communication Part 1: Expressing Dissent

Kendell Brown, Associate Director of Graduate Career Services
How can you express dissent without sounding like a troublemaker? The key is to respectfully and intelligently highlight your thoughts and opinions without letting your emotions get in the way. Here are several strategies you can utilize. Each strategy works best in a particular scenario. So think through the situation you find yourself in and choose the option that is best.

Option 1 – Ask questions.

You can pose questions for the team to consider. Questions like – “Did anyone consider how the new pricing system would impact our smaller customers?” or “What about thinking through the likelihood that Legal will agree to those revised contract terms?” This way you are not seen as the one trying to kill an idea, instead you are viewed as someone who is thinking two-steps ahead of everyone else. When dissent is packaged this way, you are actually seen as being organizationally savvy enough to foresee potential roadblocks. Your comments may be construed as a “head’s up” versus negativity.

Option 2 – Highlight contra-indicative information.

Stating key facts is an alternative for highlighting a disagreement without fully owning it. A statement such as “Decreasing the timeline by 3 weeks will cause us to be 25% over budget.” A well-documented fact cannot be argued. In this situation, you are not seen as rabble rousing, instead you’ll be perceived as knowledgeable and informed. This is best for those times when you’re new to the team or you work in a highly consensus-building organization.