Archive for August, 2017

How to Respectfully Disagree

August 31, 2017

All relationships experience conflict. Disagreements cause stress for everyone, even those with a healthy emotional intelligence. Whether it’s romantic, professional, or familial, navigating a disagreement with respect is a sure sign of personal growth and maturity.


Conflict is often uncomfortable at best, and it is easy to fall into poor habits. However, we can learn to converse respectfully and constructively disagree. If you identify with any of these disagreement no-no’s, it would be wise to reconsider your approach. The best ways to disagree poorly include making a disagreement any of the following:

  • Personal – Do you find it challenging to separate the issue from the person? Remember, it’s an idea or concept being suggested that you are actually upset or disappointed by, not the individual.
  • A put-down – Have you found yourself saying things like, “That’s a dumb idea?” Avoid putting down the other person’s ideas, culture, or beliefs. Use respectful language, such as, “I don’t see it the same way you do.”
  • Emotionally charged – It’s easy to grow passionate and heated about topics that matter to us. Instead of lashing out or saying regretful statements, take a deep breath. Think before you speak or ask to continue the conversation at a later time if need be.
  • About you – Do you stop listening and begin mentally formulating your argument? Maybe you avoid it altogether and simply comply. Instead of shutting down or over-talking, try listening for understanding. Ask questions to gain insight into the person’s thoughts and feelings. Listening is a universal sign of respect.


Learn to listen to your body’s clues and dues during a disagreement. Be mindful of overreacting, or “the amygdala hijack.” Our brain’s pre-frontal cortex is the center for rational thinking. Yet during an emotionally charged disagreement, the brain’s amygdala takes control and activates the fight, flight, or freeze response. Watch for physical cues such as a racing heart, increased breathing rate, or feeling tense to recognize the amygdala is kicking into high gear. Take some deep breaths to calm down and lower your heart-rate.

Navigating disagreements takes courage and maturity. Creating a culture and relationship built on mutual-respect amidst conflicting points of view is a worthy and rewarding pursuit.

Becoming an Effective Team Member

August 18, 2017

All eyes seem to be looking for a strong leader. From the ballot box to the boardroom, we value and praise trustworthy leaders. While leadership skills are critical they are of little use without followers. Yes, the idea of being a follower is often frowned upon. But think about it: if everyone is a leader, nothing gets done. Talk about a waste of time, energy and money. Learning to be an effective follower is an invaluable skill that can help you in both your work and personal life.

So what does it take to be an effective follower? For starters, humility and the ability to be led. Critical thinking skills and active participation are also big components. Other habits effective followers practice are: adaptability, honesty, loyalty, and integrity. Effective followers identify with the goals of the leader and collaborate accordingly.

We spend the majority of our time in groups. Our work, family, friends, and neighborhoods represent some group settings. While we may possess leadership skills, there are countless benefits to developing our “followership skills” as well.

  • Complementarity – Becoming a good follower is learning how to be an effective team member. In a group setting, everyone has something valuable to bring to the table. Strengths and weaknesses balance out as each individual offers their unique skill set.
  • Community – Learning best occurs in shared environments. What better way to bond than through laughter or voicing frustrations with your fellow sojourners.
  • Increased Opportunities – Curious how others think or work? Humble followers can respect the differences of their fellow group members and learn from them.
  • Stronger Together – Working with others creates an environment of accountability and support. This power can motivate individuals to perform at a greater level of success than if alone. Satisfaction rates also increase dramatically with the encouragement of others.

Even if you’re a strong leader, becoming an effective follower will only improve your leadership skills. Understanding group dynamics, while valuing everyone’s role, will equip you to lead with success. And that’s a win for the whole team.