5 Steps To Overcome Pushback At Work

Every person has an opinion. Being able to voice your opinion at work is a sign of a healthy workplace. A healthy organization is also one that can make decisions despite differences in opinion and have its employees move forward with the same determination and commitment to the overall goal. Here are five tips to help you overcome pushback and maintain momentum:

1.     Listen to the other person.

Stop what you are doing. Look at the other person’s eyes. Be intentional about listening to the other person. When the other person recognizes that you are listening to them, they will be more inclined to listen to you and accept what you have to say.

2.     Demonstrate to the person that you understand their perspective.

Don’t merely shake your head in agreement or say “uh-huh.” When the other person has finished what they want to say, paraphrase what you believe to be their points. You could say, for example, “This is what I am hearing…” and then summarize what you understand about their point(s).

3.     Ask the person questions.

Show that you care enough to want to understand their perspective. Take the time to ask questions. Give the person an opportunity to clarify or share more details. When you demonstrate that you respect their thought process, the other person will be more inclined to respect what you have to say.

4.     Communicate that you share similar goals. 

After you have learned more about the other person’s perspective, show your appreciation. Say, for instance, “Thank you for sharing your thoughts.”

Sharing one’s opinion is not always easy, especially if one is more junior than the other person. But great leaders welcome and accept anyone’s perspective, regardless of their title. 

Thanking the other person is a way to show that you share the same intention and motivation: you both want to do what is best for the organization. You can say, “I’m glad to see that we share the same goal.” Focusing on a similarity can help minimize the tension that comes with differences.

5.     Hold firm or compromise, but do not let your ego make decisions.

After hearing your colleague’s perspective, decide which approach is best. If you decide that your approach is still the best path forward for the organization, hold firm. But also ask yourself if it is possible that some points your colleague made could enhance your idea.

Successful professionals do not look to “win” on their approach. Their goal is to make decisions that are best for the organization, not to try and beat out other people’s ideas.

Despite taking a diplomatic approach to considering people’s ideas, they still may not like your decision. But people will still respect you. 

When you experience pushback, don’t make it personal. Keep the healthy tension between the ideas, not between the people. By doing this, you can contribute to a work environment that invites people to share their opinions while still maintaining cooperation, excitement and commitment to the team and broader organization.

You are bound to encounter pushback at work. Each person has a unique role and perspective. Differences of opinion can be tricky to navigate. Listen to and show that you understand and are interested in the other person’s perspective. Share with the person that you have similar goals. Reinforce your decision, and move forward together.

Avery Blank

Senior Contributor


Published Oct.21.2021

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