Be more disagreeable

And help others make more progress.

Human beings are social animals. Our ability to collaborate and help each other is fundamental to our progress, growth and survival.

The earliest human societies were made up of hunter-gatherer groups who relied on collaboration to survive. They had to work together to gather food, protect themselves from predators, and raise their children. They had to share their knowledge, skills, and resources to ensure their survival.

Today we still live in communities and generally speaking, we like to help each other, reach consensus and agree. We like people that are like us, and that share similar beliefs and values.

As a result of our need to collaborate and cooperate, many of us shy away from airing differences of opinion.

In a work context we often find giving and receiving feedback awkward because it might mean a confrontation or a disagreement.

So, we often avoid feedback. We don’t give others feedback about the situation that didn’t go well, the poorly executed presentation or the report that falls short of expectations. The other person has no idea that they’re not working to the required standard and has no opportunity to change or do anything differently. They think what they’re doing is great.

When we don’t have challenge, feedback, differences of opinion or healthy debate (which is different from having an argument), group think rules and the same thoughts, ideas and ways of working perpetuate. We don’t make progress.

Be more disagreeable.

Speak up if you have a different opinion. Give candid feedback both when things go well and when they don’t.

I recently read Radical Candor by Kim Scott and according to her model, to provide candid feedback you must both care personally while you challenge directly, without being aggressive or insincere.

I got participants to play this out in some recent team training and it surprised most people how good it felt to give feedback when it was genuinely given in the other persons best interest and how good it was to receive feedback intended in this way.

The next time you hold back on giving a colleague feedback, remember that by not telling them honest feedback you’re denying them the opportunity to learn and progress.

If you care about them and the team, and the person receiving feedback hears it with the intended intention, feedback becomes less awkward and much more about progress than being disagreeable.

If you’re interested in learning more I recommend the book Radical Candor.

I coach individuals and train teams in skills to help think differently and make more impact. Being more disagreeable and giving and receiving feedback is a key component of this. If you’d like some practical help then get in touch. 

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