The 4 R’s of Handling Disagreements

How do you handle disagreements? As a leader, it’s difficult to know how to handle disagreements in any situation. You will, at some point in your life, come across a situation at work where you disagree with someone, or someone may disagree with you.

Here’s a few key steps on how you can handle disagreements in a professional and successful way.


The first step in handling a disagreement is to recognize that you or someone else is disagreeing. This is a crucial and important first step in knowing how to handle the situation. If you do not recognize that the disagreement is occurring, you will not be able to effectively go about the situation.

In the recognition step, it’s crucial to take a step back and take time to process the situation. Don’t jump into a disagreement until you can fully process and evaluate each of these steps.

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This may be the hardest step in handling a disagreement, but it’s important to rethink the situation. Find a common ground and try to put yourself in the other’s shoes. In Adam Grant’s book, ‘Think Again’ he discusses the overview effect which is evidence that common identity can build bridges between rivals. Check out one of my previous blogs here where I discussed the power of rethinking.

As a leader, it’s extremely important to rethink any situation. This allows you to see new perspectives and be open to learning new ideas. The people around you will appreciate this.


After you have recognized that the disagreement is occurring and had the time to rethink the other perspective, it’s now a good time to respond. In your response, it’s important not to lash out on the other person. Your response should still acknowledge the agreement or common ground, but then also ask questions. Asking questions in your response will help the other person acknowledge your perspective in hopes that they will then begin to follow the 4 R’s of disagreement.

You are the only person that can change your mind and the same goes for others. However, being mindful about your response may help the other person view your perspective as well.

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This is the last step in the disagreement process, however, it may not be the resulting conversation. The result is an important step in understanding each other’s views, but not agreeing to disagree about them. It’s important for disagreements to happen because it allows you, as a leader, to be challenged and think outside of the box.

In this result step, it’s important for you to reflect on the situation and result in the way you handled it. Take notes of how you can improve the next time you come across a disagreement. Check out this TED talk about disagreements and how we aren’t all the same, but we can go about each situation in a professional and successful way.

Leaders learn from others and hopefully build more leaders in this world. How will you use these steps in your next disagreement? Which one stands out to you the most? Thank you for reading.

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