1WE4 's BLOG

Blogging on Conflict Management and Negotiation

Contrary to popular opinion

Q : I am on a taskforce that is working on no longer term goals and strategies for the company, and there is one individual who has a contrary opinion to everything the rest of us agree upon. No matter what approach we take, he seems to pride himself on criticizing it and pushing for things to be done his way. How do you deal with someone such as this?

59290_FullA : Contrary to popular belief, there are many circumstances where are contrarian is an important asset in group decision-making. However, a great deal depends on your contrarian. If he is simply displaying self-oriented behavior and voicing his input either to hear himself speak or to control the group, that is a real problem. An honest look at his inputs can be very telling in this regard.

The positive side of having this type of individual on the taskforce is that he can prevent the group from nodding into a state of agreement without carefully considering a broader range of options. If he is truly focused on helping the quality of decisions by the group, his comments, criticism, and suggestions can actually be a source of innovative and creative solutions.

The best step in this case is to look honestly at the group and at this individual. It is also important to remember that groups that operate without any disagreement or conflict can often point to a lack of interest, involvement and passion on the part of the members. Disagreement in a group is often healthy, even if some disagree with this fact.

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September 30, 2009 - Posted by | Q & A

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