Is it better if we disagree? The time when conflict is conducive to effective work

So often we try to ‘go along to get along’, to not rock the boat and to agree for the sake of comfortability but perhaps this is the worst thing we can be doing within businesses?

It is understandable that we should attempt to create agreeable and united decisions in business however is this limiting our ability to reach new heights for fear of not holding the most beloved opinion?

Having a team not afraid to have conflicting opinions perhaps is the greatest asset. With each conflict new ideas emerge, and individuals feel more comfortable to voice dynamic thoughts.

Within companies we want to be creating environments conducive to individuality and diversity, to allow the space for opposing thoughts which can result in the best outcomes, rather than always sticking with the herd. With a diversity of opinions, we can be assured that decisions are being robustly challenged and that the best solution is being chosen and that creative options are being presented.

It is important we recognise the clear differences between disagreeing and conflict. Voicing an alternative viewpoint doesn’t have to create offence or negate another opinion. Often a different viewpoint simply opens the door to an alternative way of approaching problems and more commonly than not, the best practice lies somewhere between both extremes. It is the acceptance of this diversity of thought which can result in improved efficiency and the most suitable outcome.

Agreement, whilst more comfortable, often results in stagnation and the continuation of ‘accepted’ practices. When we step further outside our comfort zone, we often find greater insights and an energy that positively contributes to development.

Having opposing opinions creates dynamic discussion, a challenging perspective allows us to fully evaluate our opinions and embrace the new. Consistently holding a level of scepticism around new suggestions in the workplace could result in bland acceptance and a culture riddled with conformity. Often, if our teams feel the need to withhold their true opinions there is an issue with the trust and culture of our companies. This can be the time when avoidable problems arise.

This being said however, it is often difficult for us to voice our disagreement. Fears of being perceived as rude or abrasive often are the reason and we are reluctant to speak openly about or opinions. Whilst we often feel more content when people are passive and agree with us this isn’t something we can always expect, and it certainly doesn’t create working relationships built on a genuine, transparent footing.

Perhaps it is the co-worker who is most different to you that aids you most when thinking ‘outside the box’ and pushing practises in new directions?

It is possible to become conditioned to side with the opinions of the majority but welcoming alternative viewpoints could mean that your next decision is more efficient and creates the best outcome.

Written by Lexie Cook, EP Business in Hospitality