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How To Use Disagreements To Build Stronger Teams

By Audrey Epstein April 13, 2018

Because I facilitate team sessions for a living, I’ve seen lots of team interactions. All kinds of drama, some shouting and tears, but also lots of laughter, joy, and bold action. Much about teamwork has been researched, dissected, and discussed. Yet lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about an unexplored topic: how to get team members to disagree.

What do you do as a team member, if, after all the discussion and debate, the hours the team talked about a new direction, plan, or policy, you still disagree? What I see happen on most teams is acquiescence – giving in or just going along. It’s hard to know the line between sticking to your views and aligning with the team. Are you a bad team player if you don’t agree?

For a long time, I have facilitated team problem-solving sessions in the same way:

1.     First explore the issue from all sides, uncovering a comprehensive view of the current state and root causes
2.     Next, brainstorm options and agree on a broad path forward
3.     And finally develop recommendations and specific action plans

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