Overcoming Disagreements


One thing that always make people turn in their seats is when someone disagrees. We generally don’t disagree well and end up burning bridges. I have my own experiences in the past where I learned some lessons on disagreements. As with everyone, I too learn from experience, some are hard lessons to swallow. Nevertheless, they are lessons and I make sure not to repeat them.

So I ended up making some notes and as always I keep notes and reference with what some of the people I follow and observe from distant. So here I go with my notes.

Wait a second, there are some prerequisites before we can dive into how we can get beyond disagreements.


Meaningful relationships are key to any outcome. Be it in life or career. There is a saying that goes like

A relationship is more than finding the right person, it’s also about being the right person

So, in communication (I am echoing one of previous bosses here) having the right intent is the key. With right intent, you can then be the right person. Moment you are a right person, people will trust you.

Like Ray Dalio says, “Be Generous, expect generosity” to have a meaningful relationship.

In reality, most people avoid toxic relationships and terrible people. In corporate, sometimes they leave terrible bosses. Mostly, many are nice to work with and are reasonable. It usually takes time and effort from both parties, to get to a place of trust and have a meaningful relationship. It is a deliberate effort. But if you often attract bad people, then the problem is with the self. You are doing something wrong to attract them. Go figure it out.

Some things you can do to attract positive people

  • Give something small and make them feel good about it
  • It is always the experience that counts
  • Always have good intent
  • Always look to do the “right thing” ( based on the context )
  • Being willing to repeat yourself is massively underrated
  • Reduce the talk and listen more
  • Look for opportunities to provide value
  • Never be the blocker
  • NEVER EVER SCREAM AT PEOPLE ( Yes it is in caps, it is important )


Your unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning - Bill Gates

Generally, conflicts are good, especially early in the game. So, you can try to work out. Once, a colleague of mine mentioned, “Be open-minded, and everything will fall in place”. Somehow it stuck with me all the time. So, conflicts are good, only if we are open-minded and trying to solve a problem.

I remember this quote by Lao Tzu

β€œIn dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.”

When you realize there is a conflict, always look to make a decision and fix forward. There is no point in dwelling what went wrong and finger pointing. One key thing in making decision during conflicts, (I have noticed one of a leader does is) is not to interject with your opinions. Instead, always look for a place to resolve them and thinking long term.

I came across this book "Just Listen" by Mark Goulston which was more practical with his scenarios on de-escalation. Out of many techniques I like 3-part Brain technique.

- A reptile part ( fear and fight, 250 million years old ), 
- A matured Mammal brain ( lots of emotions, 15 million years old) and 
- A Primate part ( logical, 2-3 million years old )

3 part brain image

When dealing with conflicts, you should be speaking to logical part of the other person’s brain. But to do that, you need to bring them to that state. So you should look to de-escalate the situation, so you can talk to a primate than to a reptile part.

Be Constructive

Not all areas are worth discussing during conflicts. Look for the important aspects of the conflicts and bring them to surface. Always try to see the other side of the story before jumping to a conclusion. Few things you can try to be productive!

  • Bring out the facts if you are uncertain.
  • If you are unaware of a problem, know more.
  • Dig deeper and learn.
  • Have Long-term in hind-sight.
  • Be attentive, during the discussions.
    • Rule of thumb - Allow 2 mins of uninterrupted time for other to explain their stand
  • Be more present.

As we say,

Devil is in the details

Keep asking questions until you are clear. Try to write the problem statement.

Feeling Right vs Being Right

Sometimes it is harder to differentiate if you are Feeling Right or Being Right. This is usually with the people who have been longer in the industry or who are experts in that field. This is a fallacy. We become our own enemy when we trust ourselves more.

Only way to overcome is to recognize your own snap decisions and question them. Trust, but verify

Roles and Responsibility

Anyone can complain, can advice or provide suggestions, but it’s the designated one makes the decision. For e.g, In my childhood, my dad always made decisions, but he always listens to mom, his parents sometimes even me.

Similarly, everyone should know their roles and what they are responsible for. Never cross the line. Advice and debate can move across the hierarchy, but decision-making do not.

Always Resolve the conflicts

In life and work, always resolve conflicts. Any unresolved conflicts, however minor they are, will come back to bite you. You should always think long-term when a conflict occurs. You should never solve for short-term. Minor conflicts when left unresolved, can be a blocker in future when resolving a bigger problem.

Support the Decision

Even if you are not fully into the decision made, support it completely. It is ok to “Agree to disagree”.So, once a decision is made, support it wholeheartedly. You should not be working against it. You always operate as a herd than an individual.

Always Be Respectful

At any point in time during conflict resolution, never disrespect other’s knowledge, experience, logic, intent. Never take anyone for granted and always think from their shoes. Always apply this process.


So to recap, be respectful, be supportive, be productive, be logical, be open-minded, be long-term. Disagreements should be normalized and always resolved.

Again Be Generous, Expect Generosity

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