A healthy disagreement is normal for organizational and personal growth. Some leaders encourage their employees to have positive disagreements with their colleagues about work issues. Research has shown that it is productive for people to have positive disagreements about their projects.
Why is it that people don’t like to disagree with their colleagues?
They don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Yes, they don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, even when it makes them look stupid. They are okay with it. What a world!
Statement: “I don’t want my friends to be angry.” “I am not going to say anything.”
Sigmund Freud said, “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
They don’t want to annoy anyone. It is good not to annoy anyone, but you are annoying yourself. You are hurting. You are hurting the organization. It is better to say something productive in a respectful way than to keep quiet.
Statement: “I am not going to offend my friends.”
“If you hate a person, you hate something in them that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”- Herman Hesse, poet & novelist
They don’t want to look different. People don’t disagree with their colleagues because they don’t want to be seen as an outsider. They don’t want to be seen as different. As a result, they will stay quiet.
Statement: “I will not challenge them.”
“People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining always.”- Stephen Hawking
They just want to follow the crowd. People follow the crowd when they don’t have any interest in the project. They contribute minimally to the conversation.
Statement: “I agree with all of you.”
“It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invincible to the eye.”- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
They don’t want to challenge the status quo. When the project manager is the only decision maker, people won’t even bother to question his or her decisions, because they know that their inputs won’t add anything to the project. The status quo is hard to destroy when you don’t have the leadership support.
Statement: “He or she will make the decision and get back to us.”
“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”- Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher
They are not sure of themselves. People don’t like to disagree when they don’t have something meaningful to say.
Statement: “I don’t know what they are talking about.”
“What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.”- Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher
There is no support from others. People feel unsafe to disagree when there is no support from their colleagues.
Statement: “I can’t do it alone.”
“If you are lonely when you are done, you are in bad company.”- Jean-Paul Sarte, philosopher
They don’t have enough information. People don’t like to speak up in a company where supervisors are the only ones that have access to important information.
Statement: “I didn’t receive anything from the manager.”
“I’m not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information.”- Bill Watterson