3 Questions That Help You Handle Disagreements at Work Without Sacrificing Your Serenity

Wondering how to handle that difficult person in your workplace? Start with these 3 questions…

You know that person at your office that causes you so much distress?

There’s just something about them that just rubs you the wrong way and you’re at a loss as to how to deal with them.

It’s almost as if every time you interact with them, you get triggered. They manage to push all of your buttons.

You have your own theories about why your relationship with this person isn’t working. Maybe you think they’re abrasive, condescending, or just plain annoying.

You wish you didn’t let them get under your skin so easily.

If only you knew what to say or do to get them to be more collegial.

If only they would see how much they’re frustrating you, they might change their behavior.

You just don’t know what to do about the situation anymore and your best ideas so far have been finding a way to completely avoid them or filing a formal complaint – neither of which are appealing to you.

But what if you can’t avoid this person and you must find a way to get along?

That’s when it’s time for a different approach, and that approach starts with 3 questions…

3 Powerful Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re You’re Dealing with Disagreements at Work

It’s easy to get stuck in thoughts of how annoying this person is or how difficult they’re “making” your life. But this approach doesn’t help you move forward.


Because as long as you’re focussing on the other person, you’re not getting closer to resolving the issue.

You can’t change their behavior or who they are because you don’t have control over this.

All you can do is change your own mindset and approach, and by doing so, possibly shift the relationship dynamics that you have with the other person.

One of the best ways to do this is to ask yourself three important questions:

1. Have you tried the best approach in the situation?

There are basically 5 different ways to handle disagreements at work. You can (1) do nothing, (2) give in, (3) take a stand, (4) compromise, or (5) collaborate.

Most of us tend to gravitate towards one approach when we’re dealing with conflict. It’s great when our preferred approach works; however, sometimes we need to switch to a different one to resolve the situation. This involves time, energy, and patience, as it’s basically akin to flexing an underdeveloped muscle.

Also, some of the approaches require a significant amount of introspection and personal development work to actually use them effectively.

For example, you may think you’ve tried collaboration – i.e, trying to find a way to make your interactions with the other person work better for both you AND the other person – but perhaps you haven’t fully optimized your use of this approach.

  • Have you asked the person to set aside some uninterrupted time to discuss your working relationship and how to improve it for both of you?
  • Have you truly sought to understand their perspective by asking them several open-ended questions and then deeply listening to their side of the story?
  • Have you explained your needs and the impact of their behaviour on you in a clear, concise, and non-judgmental way?

Listening to someone’s perspective when you disagree with it is a very challenging thing to do. It’s also one of the most powerful things you can do when you’re facing a disagreement at work.

2. What beliefs might be keeping you stuck in the situation?

Have you taken the time to examine your mindset? What underlying beliefs might be holding you back from finding new workable solutions?

If you’re swimming in thoughts like:

  • I can’t say no to the person.
  • They’re not going to listen.
  • I need to be liked by them.
  • I’m not good at handling conflict at work.
  • They’re the problem.
  • I don’t have any power in the situation.
  • They’re only interested in protecting their ego.
  • I can’t ask for help.
  • If I’m assertive I’ll damage the relationship.
  • [the list goes on]

…you’ll end up thinking exclusively of solutions that are in line with those beliefs. This is because your actions in any situation flow directly from your beliefs.

Shifting your mindset can help you see new possibilities where you thought none exist.

There are numerous techniques out there to help you with this. One of my favourites is flipping the thought around to the opposite and then truly trying to see what actions might flow from there.

For example, “I can’t ask for help” becomes “I can ask for help.”

Who could you reach out to for help in this situation?

Make a list, even if your brain resists it at first. Your initial ideas may not be the ones that work, but you can always tweak them to make them more doable.

Let me say this again—the only person you can change is yourself, and one of the things that change starts with is examining your mindset.

3. What’s your plan B?

Your Plan B is what you’ll do if you cannot ultimately resolve the situation.

You may not want to give this any thought, as your Plan B might not be ideal. But here’s the thing, figuring out your Plan B and becoming as comfortable as possible with it is actually going to give you more confidence in the situation.


Because when you know your Plan B, you have a clear, workable exit strategy for yourself. And this makes you feel less pressure – just knowing that you have an “out.”

  • What would your Plan B look like?
  • How can you start to make it more concrete right now?
  • What preliminary steps can you take to set it up for yourself?

Your Plan B might be looking for a new job, speaking to your boss, or figuring out a way to let things go. Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to explore your Plan B in detail for yourself so that it’s ready to go in case you need to implement it.

How To Resolve Disagreements at Work Without Sacrificing Your Serenity

It’s only when we fully understand ourselves that we can begin to manage disagreements at work in a way that doesn’t consume all of our energy or negatively impact our wellbeing.

That’s because when you take responsibility for your thoughts, actions, and approach to conflict, you can engage with the other person from a grounded and empowered place. Anything else becomes a power struggle between who’s right and who’s wrong and this is generally a road to nowhere.

The good news is that I have a tool specifically designed to help you do just this.

generally a road to nowhere.

The good news is that I have a tool specifically designed to help you do just this.

The Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) is a scientifically validated leadership development inventory that measures how you react in conflict situations, and in particular it measures how well you use seven key constructive behaviours, including reaching out, expressing emotions, and perspective taking.

It also measures how much you tend to engage in eight destructive behaviours that escalate and prolong conflict situations, including avoiding, yielding, hiding emotions, and self-criticizing.

And last but certainly not least, it measures which types of behaviours trigger you the most – i.e., your “hot buttons.”

The CDP comes with a 40-page Developmental Guide that provides you with step-by-step strategies on how to improve in your weaker areas.

Increasing your self-awareness in the area of conflict resolution is a key competency for high performing leaders, as it enables you to minimize the harmful effects of conflict in the workplace.

These types of critical behavioural shifts can ultimately allow you to address and resolve even the most challenging issues at the office with greater ease and grace.

Disagreements at work don’t have to take up so much of your precious time, energy, and peace of mind. I’d love to help you learn how to resolve them without sacrificing your serenity!

Contact me to find out more about the CDP.

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