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Simple Ways To Be Less Divisive
Here are some simple ways to be less divisive in the workplace:
If you agree with an idea X that Bob said, say “I agree with the idea X”, don’t say “I agree with Bob”. The former states your advocacy; the latter is dividing the group into teams.
Don’t exaggerate, even if it’s for effect. “Everyone loves the new accounting software” is not true, and the one person who is annoyed to tears with a permissions error will react poorly.
Don’t ask questions that frame disagreement as unusual. Say “Can I confirm that March should be the launch date?”, don’t say “I assume we’re all aligned that March should be the launch date”. The former simply clarifies a detail, the latter does so by making disagreement seem absurd.
Write down what you’re saying, while you’re saying it. Keep real-time notes in meetings. The simple act of writing-while-speaking has many benefits: it slows your speech to avoid mindless rambling and prevent heated arguments, it promotes thoughtfulness and durability of what you’re saying, it gives others a visual anchor to the point you’re making.
Give people a chance to give feedback on changes. People are going to share their concerns whether they see a final change or a proposal, but with the latter they’ll be more included in the process. You can also avoid a whole class of frustration from people who just wanted a chance to give feedback (though actually don’t want to give feedback). Practically, instead of saying “here’s a new thing”, simply say “here’s a new proposal we’re finalizing before the end of week, please reach out if you have any concerns”.
Miscellaneous: joke less, laugh less, stop gossiping.