8 Tips for Handling Disagreements in the Workplace

Disgaree Cartoon

It happens to us all at some point—we disagree. It’s human nature and it’s completely healthy to disagree with others. In fact, discussing our differing perspectives can help us to be more empathetic, kind, and understanding of the problems we face in the world today. The difficult part comes when we disagree about something that causes us to become highly emotional. 


In today’s often polarized political climate and the prevalence of social media, we often see emotional displays of disagreement. Hopefully, most of us don’t have to see those sorts of interactions playing out in the workplace, but what happens when you and a coworker disagree and things get heated? Use these tips to keep your cool when you disagree and help create a healthy workplace environment.


1. Remember, it’s not personal

In today’s world, we tend to think that when someone disagrees, it’s an attack on our abilities and is often seen as rude. In fact, discussing flaws and bringing in various opinions will actually strengthen your initiatives, rather than harm them. 

2. Work it out in person

Many a text message has gone awry of the intended messaging. Emails are pretty much the same. It can be difficult to pick up on someone’s intentions or tone when you aren’t communicating in person. Take it offline and have a direct conversation. This way, you both get a clearer idea of each other’s perspectives and you can leave with positive takeaways rather than letting it fester with passive-aggressive messages.

3. Use the 30-minute rule

If you feel yourself getting agitated, remove yourself for 30 minutes. This allows you to resist any emotional reactions. And even though we’ve recommended you discuss disagreements in person, we understand this isn’t ALWAYS possible. In those cases, avoid responding to a call or email for 30 minutes to allow yourself time to craft a thoughtful response instead of an emotional one.

4. Avoid emotional phrasing

We all have different opinions. That’s part of how we grow and learn from one another. It’s important to keep in mind that disagreements don’t have to be emotional. We can have different opinions on the outcome of a project and it doesn’t have to involve injured feelings. When discussing with your coworkers, stick to a discussion of the matter at hand and avoid using emotional phrasing. Rather than saying, “he’s trying to ruin our project,” say something like, “tell me more about why you don’t see this project with a successful outcome”.

5. Allow an opportunity for your coworker to voice his opinion

Disagreements can lead to a stronger solution when done correctly. Give your coworker time to voice his opinion and ask him to provide his reasoning. This can help to identify possible shortcomings in your own ideas.

6. Consider a compromise

Very few things in life are all or nothing. Consider meeting in the middle to keep morale high and come to a successful resolution.

7. Focus on the positive

Avoid jumping to negative conclusions. Your coworker may be offering insight from a past project where she identified her own shortcomings and she sees an opportunity to apply a lesson learned in advance. Just remember, your coworkers aren’t out to get you, they may only be trying to help.

8. Remember, disagreements offer growth potential

Really, they do. If everyone was always in agreement, we wouldn’t grow or learn. Remember that learning and growth come from seeing new ideas and ways of thinking. Don’t miss out on that opportunity!


At DEFENDERS, we are growth-oriented learners who are always looking for the learning potential in any situation. Disagreeing effectively helps us be a better team together.

Come join our team of growth-oriented learners!