When people work with you, is it too easy or too difficult to oppose you?


Indicators it’s too easy to oppose you

At the first sign of opposition, you

  • Yield your position
  • Change your position
  • State that you’re probably not qualified to speak on the issue anyway
  • Look to align with the predominant view out of a need to feel safe
  • Move to a position of silence so as not to engage in dialogue or debate


Indicators it’s too hard to oppose you

At the first sign of opposition, you:

  • Double down on your position
  • Disenfranchise people with opposing positions
  • Discount the qualifications of others
  • Look to make the opposition feel unsafe
  • Move to a position of silence so as not to engage in dialogue or debate (notice this is the same as in the list above)


It’s easy to inappropriately resist or acquiesce to opposing viewpoints (depending on the moment, our style and personality, to name three factors).¬† When we do this, we lose the value that comes during the push and pull of dialogue and conversation.


Here are three ways to stay in the tension of critical conversations–avoiding premature resistance or acquiescence.


Suspend your judgement: Good dialogue includes the suspension of judgement. This doesn’t mean you stop having judgements but rather that you put them in front of you (suspend them) so that you and other people can see them. We all have biases and judgements. That’s part of being a human being. In order to not be ruled by our judgements, we must be willing to expose them for what they are. Suspending them means sharing them with others in order to decrease their power.


Ask more questions: One of the best ways to stay authentically engaged in dialogue is through questions of exploration. When we are in a learning mode we ask questions to understand new ideas and information. Exploration is part of the antidote to premature resistance or acquiescence. One note of caution. When you ask questions make sure they’re actually question and not statements dressed up like questions. Questions of exploration are open ended and truly seek the perspective of the other.


Reduce pride: Pride is an inaccurate view of yourself. Pride can take the form of arrogance or false humility . The goal of pride-whether arrogant or false humility is to draw a disproportionate amount of attention to myself. Sometimes pride appears as a person diminishing their own skills and ideas. At other times, pride is an over inflation of one’s skills and ideas. Whether over or under inflation, the goal of pride is excessive focus on the self. To really understand the view points of others and simultaneously share your own, you need to have an accurate view of yourself–that you have much to give and much to learn.