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9 September 2022

Sometimes it is tempting to use our authority or experience to affirm what we believe we ‘know’ when taking a position in a meeting. Agendas are busy. We want to get business done.

But what do we really ‘know’? We may have facts and evidence, and from our perspective, there is no doubt about the course of action to follow.

But we are not just plotting a course. We are bringing people with us.

Being open to others’ views

The safer way to assert an alternative view is to express it as clearly as possible but be genuinely open to other points of view.

However, this can be challenging if we are too emotionally attached to the argument.

Being detached enough to see the issue with our rational heads and recognise that the debate is in the organisation’s interest can be a way forward. This increases the likelihood of collaborative working because now we are in a relational discussion.

Being relatable

An essential aspect of persuasion is being relatable and knowledgeable. Relatable means having understanding and empathy. It can be displayed by listening and responding positively rather than overlaying one view with another. People are essentially social and often want a good discussion, even around sensitive or important projects.

Executive coaching works similarly.

People arrive with views and beliefs, often long-held and central to who they are. In the executive coaching space, I may invite them to revisit some of these, where barriers or even conflicts exist, so they can explore new ways of seeing them. Not to change who they are or what they think, but to experience the process of self-discovery.

A time for detachment

So, if someone holds a view, you disagree with in the workplace, detaching yourself from the feeling of frustration and thinking about what you might need to know to understand why they have that view can open up another window. It isn’t always easy and takes practice.

Before speaking up, you might find it helpful to ask a question. It gives you time to regulate your feelings, understand your position, and communicate with clarity and care.


Adaptability makes an enormous contribution to our learning. Being open to ideas that we might otherwise rule out of hand might just spark an idea or new thinking. Adaptive leadership takes this forward by working through shared goals and values to release positivity and potential.



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