Resolving a Business Argument

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Resolving a Business Argument
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
We've all been in arguments, such as when one person wants to proceed with something, but the other wants to stop.
A resolution requires empathic listening, the ability to put yourself in the "other person's shoes" and view an issue from the other's perspective.
A business argument...Here's how a Six Thinking Hats Short Sequence can be used for 2 persons / parties. The hat sequence is: blue > yellow > black > red > blue.
1. Blue hat: let's agree together to look at the pros and cons of the options (in this example, proceeding and stopping.)
2. Yellow hat: now let's both list the benefits of each option. Listen to each other and work to build a list together.
3. Black hat: now let's both list the risks/faults of each option. Again listen and work together.
4. Red hat: check for changes in feelings. Listen for clues like: "oh, now I understand where you're coming from... Gosh, I never thought about that..." are people emotionally willing to have a healthy discussion?
5. Blue hat: decide on next steps.
One extra step might be to gather more information (white hat) or other choices (green hat).
The sequence is meant to be short, 5-10 minutes duration in total.
 

 
Be and Think in Their Shoe
Jacob Andrews, Entrepreneur, United Arab Emirates, Member
If both arguing parties put themselves in eachother's shoes, the solution arrives fast.
For example, when a customer reports an issue, or when your subordinate raises an issue. Be in their shoe and think from their position and you will be able to find a solution.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument
julia burlacu, Entrepreneur, Mexico, Member
I have a situation at work with a co-worker who wears her ego on her sleeve and despite the fact that even general management tried to resolve the situation and prevent any further conflict, she won´t change her behavioural pattern.
All the steps / hats have been employed but it seems nothing works. What is to be done in this circumstances? What should the general manager do?
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument
Jos Essers, Coach, Netherlands, Member
@Julia Burlacu: you say "she won't change her bahorial pattern". I am pretty certain that she would like to change, but just cannot as it is within her nature to act and react the way she does.
Most likely she is a highred, wearing her ego on her sleeve. If you deal with her, the way highreds want to be dealt with, you might see fascinating results.
 

 
Thinking, not Labelling
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
@Jos Essers:
Jos: thanks for offering your advice. Let's remember that the Six Thinking Hats wasn't meant to be a way to label people, like Myers-Briggs or 4 Colors. It's an approach to organize thinking in a structured, disciplined manner. In my reply to Julia above, I've offered some thoughts how I might deal with a high ego person.
 

 
Thinking with Difficult People
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
@Julia Burlacu: One of our goals is to improve a person's ability to think in 6 different ways. Consider a person with a high ego as a strength, not a weakness. She expresses a strong opinion; we just need to harness that energy by helping her see where she is weak, namely unable to see and understand the views of others.
Here are some tips, some you may have tried already:
- Appoint a blue hat facilitator to manage the 6TH process. It should not be the general manager.
- Set behaviour ground rules: be courteous, no interruptions, everyone contributes, share the air time. Don't just post them but use them to change old behaviours.
- Watch for signs of non-participation (folded arms, silence). Facilitator should assertively address it. Ask and wait for a response. It is discomforting but does engage.
- Use the red hat sparingly for progress checks. 30 seconds for a show of hands. Do not allow emotional outbursts.
Let us know what worked!
 

 
A Team Multiply not Just Sum Strengths of Team Members
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico, Member
As an answer to Julia Burlacu question: what should be GM do. I suggest this 3 points
1 GM explain to team members that a team, by definition achieve more that just a sum (1 + 1 = 3)
2 Use this story about what is a good and bad team: We have 2 members of a team, a financial manager and a human resources manager, the first is strong in reading numbers and weak in "reading yellow lines" of the people, the HR manager is strong in reading "yellow lines" of the people and typically weak in reading numbers. A team shall be good in the 2 issues, adding the best strength of each one
3 GM tell to the members that should not use your strength to attack the weakness of the another member. And never listen to a team member, pointing out an error of a colleague (ie "the financial manager does not realize that his assistant is passing information to her new lover, "from the human resource manager) or "the human resource manager is paying more (from the financial manager).
 

 
The Six Thinking Hats for Resolving Business Arguments
Yigzaw Bayew, Member
@Gary Wong: I positively share with Gary Wong that organizing ideas in color could help to guide the disputants and to get advice from other consultants.
Business arguments typically revolve around pros and cons, benefits, risks, moods/feelings at the time of exchanging ideas, and next course of action.
Gary organizes these ideas in color sequence of blue, yellow, black, red and back to blue. According to Gary, the discussion starts by pros and cons and ends by deciding to next course of action.
This approach is logical to resolve business arguments.
 

 
Six Thinking Hats Effective Method Equating to Collaboration versus Competition
KATHRYN STEINER, MBA, Entrepreneur, United States, Member
Dealing with others ego's is one of the greatest challenges within business.
There are some that have effectively mastered encouraging respectful communications to facilitate collaboration.
I've been in many meetings where there are those who monopolize and those that can barely get a word in. How to encourage and enable those with good ideas to contribute, while encouraging those who monopolize to share the floor. It's useful then that in such situation there is a facilitator who can get the conversation, discussion, or meeting, back on track.
 

 
Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument
sammie, Management Consultant, United States, Member
In addition to all comments, the theory of conflict negotiation also comes to mind.

Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument touches on five areas of conflict management styles based on two dimensions:
- Assertiveness is the motivation of an individual to achieve his/her own goals, objectives, and outcomes
- Cooperativeness assesses the willingness to allow or help the other party to achieve its goals or outcomes.
Any of their five conflict resolution styles might be appropriate based on the circumstances of the situation and the personalities of the individuals involved.
Their 5 conflict management styles are:
1. Avoiding (low, low)
2. Competing (high, low)
3. Accommodating (low, high)
4. Collaborating (high, high)
5. Compromising (medium, medium).
The fifth is at the centre of the epic where conclusive agreements rise from compromising.

Ed: It's interesting to compare with this Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument the very similar Five types of Conflict Management by Blake and Mouton, which is based on their Managerial Grid axes (concern for people, concern for production).
 

 
How to Deal with Rigid, Difficult People
Broli, Consultant, South Africa, Member
Unfortunately difficult or obstinate people have to be 'set up' to be exposed or shocked into seeing their obstinancy. These are the ways of the wise old persons of ancient times.
This was, for example, exactly the point of King Solomon, the wise old Hebrew king, on threatening to cut the disputed baby in half - flushing out the real mother who stood by, rather than see her baby cut in half; the obstinate non-mother was 'flushed out'.
The real wisdom comes when no direct finger is pointed. Let he who has not sinned throw the first stone.
 

 
Putting Yourself in Their Shoes
SYED ATIF ALI, Student (University), Pakistan, Member
@Jacob Andrews : U mean empathizing?
 

 
Be and Think in Their Shoe
wafaa, Sudan, Member
@Jacob Andrews: it is not easy to put ourselves in each other shoes because you can't really feel the pain if you're not in that position yourself. But you can try.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument May Require Analysis First
Mahmoud
Thanks to all thoughts putting here for the management styles, but sometimes more effort to diagnose the problem and go deeply in analytical path may be needed.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument
melchiorre calabrese, Manager, Italy, Member
@Julia Burlacu: I offer you the following practical advice:
Search in your co-worker something for which you can praise her, and do this at the earliest.
That shall help her to look at you not more like an antagonist but like a friend.
You shall see that little by little she will change her behavioural pattern towards you.
And you shall be early able to use her strength for the best interests of the whole team.
Please, inform me about the progress of the situation.
 

 
Understanding Eachother's Personalities
Bill Boynton, Teacher, United States, Member
Very interesting article.
I once experienced an organization who had sent their management people to Myers Briggs personality identification training.
After the training the people who had gone through it reviewed their test results and understood better why they behaved in certain ways.
When all was finished, they published their personality trait numbers on their office door windows.
Then who ever was going in to see them would have a better understanding for how they would act to a situation and/or problem.
If you wanted something bad enough from them, at least you may have a better idea for how you may want to approach the circumstance and maybe come away with a win/win result.
Very interesting practice.
Not necessarily condoning, just sharing an experienced.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument
Leodegardo M. Pruna, Professor, Philippines, Member
@Julia Burlacu: the general manager should talk in private with your colleague and lay down the reason for calling her, reminding her of existing policies relevant to her behavior, and to assure her that if she yields to these policies (discipline) then things would get back to normal otherwise the penalties applicable would be applied to her.
 

 
We are Talking About an Individual
Caroline A Vine, Manager, United Kingdom, Member
My first instinct is to ask why does the member of staff wear her ego on her sleeve? Is there a hidden issue that she has and is overcoming it by her ego?
A mentor may assist here as then they could discuss the real issues behind her behaviour.
Is she feeling undervalued/threatened in her current role or sees her behaviour as a format to stand out from the crowd to get positive recognition but not realising that it is the negative recognition that she is achieving.
In the end if she is not willing to listen/change by subtle hints then I am afraid the direct approach using the line management route is one that may have to be taken. Often this robust format will assist in forcing the desired change as if there are negative consequences to her continuing her behaviour then it may force her to change.
Sometimes we can be a bit too soft in the work place and try all other types of tools and methods when in reality it needs a firmer hand to be taken. I know that this may not suit all firms ethos etc.
 

 
Conflict Can Be Beneficial
ARMSTRONG IDAHOR, HR Consultant, Nigeria, Member
Conflict can be beneficial, especially when it has to do with the question of which direction or approach should be taken on a business issue, and the different opposing parties are willing to listen to each other and collaborate.
The conflict provides a platform to review the issues and approach critically.
 

 
Blue Hat Summary: We've Just Demonstrated Why we Need Six Thinking Hats!
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
Wow, what rich content! Imagine if we were all in a meeting room together. How many conversations would be going on at the same time?
- I visualize a small group huddled with Julia discussing her particular situation.
- Some are talking about how to handle an individual with an ego.
- Others are analyzing the Thomas-Kilmann model.
- I see several discussing personalities next to a group exploring management styles.
- And yes, over in the corner are a few wondering what happened to the initial topic of thinking.
All great conversations for sure!
But instead of many chats happening simultaneously, consider how much more powerful the meeting would be if we practiced Parallel Thinking. We think about one topic together - what it is (white hat), how it might be applied (green hat), pros (yellow hat), cons (black hat). Do you agree the sharing and learning would improve?
I'd like to bring us back to applying 6 Thinking Hats. Put your blue hats on. If you were this meeting's facilitator, what would be your next steps?
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument
Darryl Lynn Jones
Fantastic reminder for those in clinical supervisory capacities!
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument
Vachu Kabbinale, Student (MBA), India, Member
@Julia Burlacu : From your note, I believe your management tried all the means to straighten up the situation. Now the only option left is to have a backup plan, slowly cut down her assignments and give less importance to her to minimize the further damage to the team environment.
 

 
How to Deal with Disagreement about the Value of Benefits and Risks?
Damith Baduraliyage, Student (MBA), Sri Lanka, Member
Most arguments get stuck at evaluating benefits and risks. The gravity of elements within are not agreed upon due to experience, lack of facts etc.
- Experience to be justified as wrong or correct perception is a tough one.
- Lack of facts needs / can buy time for collection.
How do you overcome mixed experience talking? (for example: one is quoting a low risk, another high).
 

 
Resolving a Business Arguement
Adamson, Zambia, Member
That is a good approach. However, when I count the steps presented, I see only five. May be it was a typing error but I feel she should include a white hat (the facts about the arguments).
 

 
Short or Long Hat Sequence
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
@Adamson:
Indeed in this particular use of the 6 thinking hats there are only 5 steps in which 4 of the hats are used (2 others are mentioned as optional at the end). Obviously there is no need to always use all 6 hats in each situation.
This is a 5-10 minutes max short hat sequence used when each side already has heard the position of the other. The task is to stop defending and begin analyzing each position together.
If the facts were not out in the open, then I would propose a long hat sequence which could also include green hat to explore other alternatives besides the 2 positions.
 

 
Sometimes a Problem Cannot Be Solved
Mahmood Azizi, Manager, Iran, Member
Thanks for putting these thoughts here. If the argument was due to priority of works, schedule, technical matters and something like these there is a possibility to reaching a solution (win-win) but if a personal intention (e.g. personal benefits) is behind the conflict we can not solve it so easily.
Then we may have to compromise.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument: Personality Types
SAMUEL NDUATI MBUGUA, Management Consultant, Kenya, Member
When resolving an argument, it is important to understand the psychological type of the people involved in order to know the level of the flexibility each party is going to have.
The argument will primarily depend on the personality structure of the participants and it is a major determining factor of the basis of the argument.
 

 
Effective Conflict Resolution is Vital to Organisation's Health
John Moses, Manager, Nigeria, Member
There is nothing bad in conflict but how it is resolved is what is more important which I think should be effective and organisational centered.
Human elements must be reduced to the barest minimum so that every issue should be focused on the organisational goals and objectives. This means subordination of individual interest to the organisation interest according to Henry Fayol's Principles of Management.
 

 
Dealing with Non-Cooperative Persons
Mandulo, Manager, South Africa, Member
Some individuals may be difficult or are not cooperating because they are hiding certain weaknesses. Those individuals need guidance and should be influenced positively.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument Must Add Value
Taurai Nyamuzuwe, Student (MBA), Zimbabwe, Member
@John Moses : I agree a conflict is healthy only if it adds value to the organization. But if some person is being difficult only for the sake of being difficult, then there is need not to argue with the individual but with respect for his/her ideas show her the other side of things so as to be focused on the organizational goals and objectives.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument
Ranjan, Director, India, Member
I suggest to assign goals / responsibilities which need each other's help to be achieved.
The person having the big ego must get even more difficult goals than the others. Allow them to negotiate themselves, you can facilitate. But only note of caution: don't let them negotiate in a way that the blame for one’s failure goes on the other’s head.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument..
VENKATESWARAN, Teacher, India, Member
Gary, congrats for this good initiative... It is a practical problem in organizations. I suggest you create an article with all the inputs given herein.
Julia has also raised a pertinent issue in organizations. The best way to handle this person is to give her the responsibility of solving such issues by promoting her or tranferring her to the problem-areas as in charge.
In an appraisal perhaps this could be discussed with her as an adult to adult proposition and take her inputs and make her aware of her ego-issues simultaneously. You may choose to narrate the issue to her as if it does not pertain to her, but to another staff, and seek her guidance for solving it.
 

 
Six Hats Fantastic for Resolving Issues
ernest agbenohevi, Consultant, Ghana, Member
The six thinking hats constitutes a fantastic model for resolving issues. People find themselves in entrenched positions for reasons of lack of sufficient data or information.
The model draws on the strengths of a team to accomplish a vision through improved larger participation because everyone gets heard and collectively agreements are reached on consensus other than few persons imposing themselves on the group.
Otherwise individuals with ill motives may want to stifle such brilliant models as the six thinking hats.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument: Get Rid of the Anger First :-)
Strauss, Manager, South Africa, Member
Wow people this is a very interesting sequence of steps to follow - I believe that this could also be used for personal needs.
However I might say that I in my personal capacity might have to wait to get rid of the anger before getting into the same room! Well said Mr. Wong.
 

 
The Role of Time in the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument
Jim Liang, Management Consultant, Australia, Member
@Sammie Cheston: Just to add another aspect to Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument -- it is certainly a useful tool in the context of seeking conflict resolution. Another dimension of it is time, which is an apodictic factor. It is common that parties involved can misjudge their propositions when they start to resolve the business conflict (e.g. departmental or solo thinking).
Hopefully that misjudgement can be adjusted along the way in the resolution seeking process. Otherwise, we would see a prolonged period that mismatched expectations lead to divergence of the conflict before the parties can reach a stage of convergence for the matter.
 

 
Resolving a Biz Argument
Amir Momendoust, Manager, Iran, Member
@Julia Burlacu: Hi Julia, have you been through personality behavior studies like DISC? For me, root-cause analysis is key to solving any issue!
What sort of personality does she has resulting her in acting like this? I found very practical people reading skills through DISC training. If you find her pattern as a colleague, definitely, you will find more clues on how to bring her to a collaboraive level as mentioned by other firends, while ensuring a win-win approach.
 

 
Managing Primary Feelings
Dr zahra gheidar, Consultant, Iran, Member
Yes, it is considerable point; "put yourself in other person's shoes", so you can solve a disagreement or problem with the Six Hats sequence as described by Gary.
Sometimes when we are in arguments, emotions may not allow certain people to take these reasonable steps. In such case, before entering the sequence we should learn these employees first how they can manage their primary feelings.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument - Stick to the Facts
T Macey, Manager, United Kingdom, Member
@Julia Burlacu: Hi Julia, I had a similar issue recently with a collegue (we are both department heads). She got heated and without careful handling this could have become a personal argument.
I find in these situations sticking purely to facts and avoiding any opinion does the trick.
In addition, if you feel your way is the right way, try something along the lines of ''I want to understand your perspective on this, so I'd like to look into it in more depth to make sure we get an outcome that we both agree on'' - then (depending on the issue) bring in a neutral third party to give it a 'fresh pair of eyes' - this often turns up things you may both have missed.
Then when you make your final point state only the facts and show how you will measure the success.
 

 
Hat Sequence - Stick to the Facts
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
@T Macey: To put your suggestion into Six Thinking Hats terms:
1. Blue hat - state the purpose of the meeting: "i want to understand... So I'd like to look into... An outcome we both agree on."
2. Red hat - check if the person is willing: "how do you feel about that?"
3. White hat - share information including things we may both have missed.
4. Blue hat - summarize final points and how success will measured.
I propose one enhancement - instead of you summarizing your points and perspective, you summarize what the other person has stated. This is a great way to test if you did a good job of (active) listening. If you need to be corrected or can't remember, that indicates you were too inwardly focused on what you wanted to say next instead of listening. Now ask the other person to do the same.
Only when I can accurately state the other's perspective to that person's satisfaction can I confidently say I am "in the other person's shoes."
I may not agree with that person's perspective, but at least I have achieved a level of understanding. I have opened my mind, and, if my colleague has done the same, we can now enjoy exploring solutions together.
 

 
Resolving a Business Argument
claudio pizzi, Business Consultant, Argentina, Member
Dear Julia, really it is very interesting to read the different answers that we have in this internet forum.
In my humble opinion when a person wears her ego on her sleeve, it is necessary to work with him.
We are not obligated to change his point of view, we must try that he can change himself. In this case I advice to you work with coaching technics, because most problems related with the ego are consequences of an education problem.
This solution could be applied in a co-worker case, not in a normal negotiation process.
 

 
Managing Ego Among Subordinates
robin umiom, Entrepreneur, Nigeria, Member
Julia has brought a live issue for consideration under this heading. Managing ego among subordinates has been and will continue to be an arduous task for the managers for various reasons prime of which is the gender abuse.
One particular way of overcoming this challenge at board or management forum for the manager is the initiation of ground rules which should include sanctions for deviations/breach. With democratically initiated ground rules at meetings, any issue raised cannot be between the proponent and the manager. The issue then is not a proponent's issue, but has become a communal issue to be dealt with communally.
Of course to wear ego on the sleeve is noticeable in both sexes. But to protect the male manager line communication must be strictly respected in protecting communally resolved issue.
 

 
Understanding Each Others Personalities
Andyson Mupeta, Student (MBA), Member
This can lead to perceived opinions even before the discussion starts. The "I knew it, why did I even bother" syndrome will rule.
I would like to believe that life experiences are continuously shaping our personalities and relying on tests of the past not really a good judgement for the present.
 

 
Dealing with High Ego's
Wisdom Amegbletor, CEO, Ghana, Member
A person who wears his or her ego up her sleeve is likely to be covering a perceived or real defect.
Remember that the best form of defence for such a person is to attack. I am of the opinion that one can get a better result by first taking off ones hat to appease the ego and then start putting on the hats as outlined especially if one has no option but to work with the high ego character.
 

 
Gleaning Well-rounded Synergistic Feedback
Darryl Lynn Jones
@Kathryn Pawley Steiner: As you know, gleaning well-rounded synergistic feedback is an ongoing challenge. It can be circumvented by invoking directive-control with response constraints in the interest of time. In other words, establish guidelines that keep unlimited lines of communication open outside of formal meetings.
Suffice it to say that the facilitator must require participation from every attendee. Planning is the key.
For example, announce the topics to be discussed in email and/or hardcopy memos then enforce participation. Those who have more to say than time allows can provide additional comments in writing. In the meantime attendees who consistently do not espouse an opinion are encouraged and impelled to participate. Thus providing needed feedback from all attendees toward cultivation of best practices. Of course, the facilitator must not cower to the monopolizers!
 

 
Controlling Time using a Six Thinking Hats Sequence
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
@Darryl Lynn Jones: Darryl: Using Six Thinking Hats enables a facilitator to execute the good points you have made. A hat sequence can be designed for a timeline that is before, during, and after a meeting.
BEFORE:
1. Blue hat: Announce in advance discussion topics in an email or distribute via hard copy.
2. White hat: Gather written comments. Organize them under the appropriate hat - White for information items, Green for ideas, opinions, etc.
DURING:
Thinking under a specified hat really aids a meeting with unwilling participants and/or monopolizers.
3. Blue hat: Set ground rules including what are the time constraints.
4. White hat: Distribute the written comments. Open the floor for clarification but not for debating.
4. Green hat: To manage the time, I will go around the room and collect one new idea per person, 30 seconds max each. In the first round, an unwilling participant will often pass. However, in the second round, my experience has been s/he will speak up to avoid a personal feeling of discomfort and uneasiness building up inside. I find monopolizers quickly learn the one thought rule and abide by it. After several rounds and the majority have their ideas on the table, I will open it up for anyone offer a new idea not yet posted; the thirty seconds max rule still applies. Lastly, I will check the written comments gathered beforehand and add any that are missing.
AFTER:
5. Blue hat: Before adjourning, agree on the next steps that people will do after the meeting. Tasks may include contacting each other to further explore listed ideas without time constraints.
 

 
Work with Other's Ego
Plyin, Manager, China, Member
@Julia Burlacu: Keep the communication going. If she keeps her ego anyway, show her the consquence. In some circumstances, that will be one good option to ask her ego reason from question beginning.
 

 
Work with Other's Ego
Adamson, Zambia, Member
I agree with Plyin's view that you should keep on communicating. Indeed apply negative reinforcement if things get out of hand.
However, consider employee engagement processes if you can in order to help this employee.
 

 
Two Levels of Self Esteem / Ego
claudio pizzi, Business Consultant, Argentina, Member
@Julia Burlacu : Dear Julia, the ego is an excess of self-esteem. Sometimes the reasons can be found on the surface and sometimes not. So in my opinion it's important to review the issues on two levels, the conscious and the not-conscious.
On the conscious level you can work with coaching programs, but for problems that are sub-conscious, it's always important to have the help of a psychologist professional who through their tests can help you understand this person.
We do not have too much information to comment on the person itself, but on the particular case, I have always believed that it should address the causes and not the effect. The diagnosis in this case is essential to know what kind of person we are talking about.
Of course, I'm assuming it's a difficult person that causes the problems, and that his excessive ego prevents him from evaluating other points of view or reflect on their attitudes to others.
 

 
Administrative Theory is Important
JOSE AGUILAR, Project Manager, Guatemala, Member
I have some experience with companies that have some of the problems that you bring to the forum. I´ve realized that many managers and executives of those companies, have a poor knowledge of administrative theory. The various approaches may offer a solution that depends on the nature of the organization. As an example, one of the 14 points of Henry Fayol says: "Do not put first the personal interest over the organization interest".
 

 
Dialogue the Need for Listening
Bill Boynton, Teacher, United States, Member
@Kathryn Pawley Steiner: there is a lot of value in addressing "dialogue" as a method of communicating, where the whole process is focused on sharing idea's, opinions, along with clarifying for meaning, and understanding.
It is refered to as "listening with the intent to understand" (Ed: see also Active Listening).
Even with a bunch of ego's in the room it has some merit.
 

 
Parallel Thinking Greatly Aids Listening to Understand
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
@Bill Boynton: Instead of listening with the intent to understand, we all too often unfortunately "listen with the intent to reply." If you are busy thinking about formulating your response, that means you aren't paying enough attention to what the person just said.
One value of using a Six Thinking Hats sequence is to reinforce Active Listening. When thinking in parallel, everyone (including the egotistical) adds and builds off what has just been said. Any form of conflict is totally avoided.
The next step is the entire group switching hats to see things from a different view. Typically egotists will not switch and choose to be quiet (with folded arms). Not the best but, thankfully, they are not defending, arguing, and being disruptive. However, I discover they can't stand being silent and shut out! So they switch hats and join the conversation. When this happens, as a blue hat facilitator I make it a point to acknowledge their contribution and encourage more letting go of their ego.
As egotists practice thinking in parallel, they begin to better understand what other people see and how they feel. It's a gentle, positive way of shaping people with egos so that they can safely move away from focusing on their self-importance.
 

 
Documenting May Assist with Resolution Utilizing Six Hats
KATHRYN STEINER, MBA, Entrepreneur, United States, Member
Everyone has provided thought provoking contributions to this discussion. The six hats method, if agreed upon by all participants, would assist with bringing about organization and respect to discussions or disagreements.
Some form of documenting during the discussion would also be helpful. During a heated discussion the details of responses could be lost if not documented.
 

 
Hats Applied But it Went Wrong
Caroline A Vine, Manager, United Kingdom, Member
Hello all, I recently applied the hat theory on a colleague who subsequently left the office in a huff as they wanted a win and would not listen to anything or any reason or questioning of their understanding. I only got to the first two hats when the colleague stormed out.
The colleague has this approach with many others when the colleague has realised that they have got it wrong. Now having to go down the performance route with the colleague as continually uses avoidance tactics to be be addressed. Has a major ego and does not like management so will be fun... Not.
 

 
Apply the Black Hat with your colleague
melchiorre calabrese, Manager, Italy, Member
@Caroline A Vine : Invite your colleague for a coffee and ask him/her to examine together the risks for future performances. Then ask your colleague directly what you can do for a better relationship.
Let me know, please, if you do this and the consequent results.
 

 
Co-worker Issue Resolved
julia burlacu, Entrepreneur, Mexico, Member
Thank you very much to all who answered my query. I am very grateful for your opinions. In the end the situation got solved. But it took few steps. First, I sat down with her and:
1. Asked her to talk to me and share the reasons for her behaviour which affected the team and business environment.
2. Explained our roles and how we complement each other´s work.
3. The importance of working well together and the results we could achieve as a team,
4. Asked her to put herself in our shoes (the GM and myself) meanwhile we tried to see the situation from her end, establishing a consequence in case the behaviour persists.
Changes have been noticed almost straight away but two weeks later she got back to the old thing. Unfortunately this time the GM had to resume to asking her to reconsider her attitude or leave the company. Sadly enough, this did it. She changed totally her attitude towards the better. Wishing you all the best.
 

 
How to Deal with Disagreements at Work
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
I read the following interesting tips on having disagreements at work by Amy Gallo:
What you should do:
  • Focus on common ground, shared goals and common interests.
  • Consider the nature of the disagreement when preparing the meeting about the disagreement (substantive, relational or perceptual).
  • Be open to persuasion by the other party.
What you should not do:
  • Believe you completely understand the perspective of the other person.
  • Use the wrong medium to solve the disagreement (email, phone, Facebook).
  • Interrupt the other person when (s)he is explaining what is bothering him/her.
Source: Amy Gallo, "The Right Way to Fight", HBR Fall 2018, pp. 10-12.
PS: See also "How to Disagree with a Superior" (2016), also by Amy Gallo.
 

 
How to Handle Disagreement in your Team as a Manager
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Yet another interesting HBR article on handling disagreements, this time as a manager of people in your team… Suppose 2 people in your team have a serious disagreement, what should you do as a manager? Brett and Goldberg recommend the following steps:
  1. Like a COACH, make them to talk to each other and resolve the conflict among themselves.
  2. If I. failed, approach the situation as a MEDIATOR:
    1. Preparation:
      - Explain to the 2 team members you hope that together you can find a resolution that works for all involved.
      - Talk to each one separately, explaining this is meant to understand both sides. Or have a joint meeting, but make sure you control the meeting well.
    2. Move forward to an agreement:
      - The conflict may prove to have been a mere misunderstanding.
      - There might be a resolution that respects both parties interests.
      - Agree on how issues are going to be tackled in the future.
      - Limited duration agreement: try something and evaluate before proceeding.
      - Contingent agreement: agreement is valid only as long a future event does not happen.
      - Agreement without precedent: the agreement is valid only for this particular case.
      - Have the two parties make proposals using the interests and priorities that have been revealed earlier on. (Could be for the other party.)
      - Talk with each team member separately about the consequences of not reaching an agreement.
  3. If II. also failed, In your role as MANAGER impose an outcome that is in the best interests of everyone involved and the organization. Explain your reasoning well and that you would have wished the resolution to have been reached in another way.
Source: Jeanne Brett and Stephen B. Goldberg, "How to Handle a Disagreement on your Team", HBR Fall 2018, pp. 54-56.
Source: .
 

 
Hats and Sequences to Use in Case of Disagreement in your Team
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
@Jaap de Jonge: Since this is the Six Thinking Hats forum, here are the hats to wear and sequences to follow for the Brett and Goldberg article.

I. COACH: Blue, White
Blue hat when directing them to talk and resolve. Include the White hat if offering information as a coach.

IIA. MEDIATOR preparation: Blue
Blue to provide process and meeting control. Let them know as a Six Thinking Hats mediator, you will use the power of Parallel Thinking to avoid argument. This isn't about putting on a hat to say something but everyone putting on the same hat at the same time.

IIB. Move forward to an agreement using Hat sequences. Note in all cases you begin with a Blue hat and end with a Blue hat to summarize.

Test for Misunderstanding: White, Red, Blue
White hat to collect factual information and just as importantly, individually-held perceptions.
Red hat to "agree to disagree in order to move forward".
Blue hat possibly if need to adjourn to obtain more clarifying information. Set when to return.

Resolution: Green, Yellow, Black, Red, Green
Green hat to look at areas of agreement, common interests, and for a win-win solution. Expand realm of possibilities by letting go of positions based on paradigms and beliefs.
Yellow hat to evaluate positive aspects of potential solutions.
Black hat to evaluate the negative aspects.
Red hat to select the preferred alternative.
Green hat to mitigate any risk associated with the preferred alternative.

Wear Blue hat to set applicable agreement rules & conditions.
Wear Black hat when talking with each team member separately about the consequences of not reaching an agreement.

III. MANAGER: White, Yellow, Red
White hat to deliver the imposed solution.
Yellow hat to explain why in best interest of everyone involved and organization.
Red hat to share emotions that a win-win solution could not be achieved.
 

     
Special Interest Group Leader
Gary Wong
Consultant

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