Productive Arguing

Disagreements within a Project Team often lead to better project outcomes and increased efficiency. But if team harmony is essential to productivity, how can you argue with coworkers without alienating them or causing long-term bad blood? We’ve put together a quick guide to productive arguing.

Know what you want. Some people simply like to argue, but disagreements for sport are rarely welcome in the Project Team—they waste time, energy, and create ill will. Coworkers will quickly tune out the constant arguer, so make sure your goals are clear and that you state them up front.

Know why you want it. Change for change’s sake is another red flag, and someone who is constantly trying to stir things up will often be ignored. Instead, let team members know why the existing model isn’t meeting today’s needs. Is time being wasted? Are you spending too much money? Are the project’s stakeholders being underserved?

Know where the current method is lacking. It isn’t enough to say that existing methodologies aren’t up to par—that just makes you a whiner. To engage in a productive disagreement, you need to clearly identify where along the way the process breaks down. Are communications good but slow? Have end users voiced concern but resolutions are lacking?

Pick your battles. You can’t productively argue about everything that irritates you—there isn’t enough time, and fellow team members will eventually stop listening. Go to bat only on those issues that you truly feel are significant, solvable, and for which you have good ideas for improvements. Leave the rest for someone else to tackle.

Keep it professional. There’s no place in good project management for personal attacks. If a coworker is using an approach that you feel could be improved, focus on the methods and leave the individual out of it.

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