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By The American Counseling Association
Special to the Village News 

How to handle workplace disagreements


Last updated 1/11/2018 at 10:52pm

While everyone all has multiple relationships through their family and friends, for most people, the relationships in which they spend the most waking hours are work relationships.

Disagreements in any relationship can be challenging, but with friends and family, people usually find ways to work out their issues. A disagreement on the job, however, especially with someone who has more authority, can be a very difficult and awkward experience.

Even if someone feels strongly about an idea, decision or a project, they often feel they have little choice but to follow the boss’s wishes. When this occurs, people can feel stressed and anxious, and often wish they had handled the situation differently.

If a work disagreement or bad decision occurs because of incomplete or incorrect information, it can usually be fixed by logically and cooling presenting the corrected or updated facts.

But if workplace disagreements are coming from the type of person the boss is and their business style, that’s not something that can be changed. Instead, the goal is to only use energy in deciding how to manage the situation so that in the end the worker can feel good about how they handled things.

Start by deciding whether to deal with the problem now or later. Neither is always the best way. Bringing up the problem immediately might make the worker seem argumentative, but waiting to voice their objections might lead to even bigger problems.

Also, decide if discussing the problem directly with the boss is the best approach. A calm discussion, handled right, might be very effective. But sometimes talking about the issue with family or friends might help keep the problem in perspective.

An important step is simply to assess the situation, rather than just reacting quickly. How important is the problem, really? If it is important, consider possible alternative courses of action and evaluate what outcomes each might bring. After selecting the best alternative, implement it.

Present a carefully considered discussion of the problem and a possible solution, rather than a heated response to the issue. Then evaluate the outcome. Yes, the boss will still be the same person, but consider whether the chosen approach helped fix the problem, and most importantly, did it make the worker feel good about how they handled the disagreement?

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Send comments and questions to or visit the ACA website at


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