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In this weekly series, Todd Dewett, PhD, shares the tips respected and motivated managers use to improve rapport, navigate tricky situations, build better relationships, and drive the business forward. Each week, we'll release two tips ranging from avoiding the dreaded micromanagement to managing a multigenerational workforce, cultivating better listening skills, and developing an understanding of your organization's politics. Check back every Wednesday for more Management Tips.
- Some people are just born contrarians. They always seem to have some spirited way to see things different than everybody else. When they look around at work, they see lots of yet-to-be-realized opportunity: change waiting to happen. And, they wanna talk about it. And when they do, they tend to be blunt or matter-of-fact, which can rub people the wrong way. They sometimes give the impression that they're insulting the status quo. Well, that's not how you get people to listen to you. So, if you might be something of a contrarian, let me offer you a few ideas that will help you be heard.
The first and most important idea is to have a great track record of success at work. Nothing makes people want to listen to you faster than a history of strong performance. Next: before you speak up to offer your latest contrarian idea, do a little homework, and see if you can find others who feel the way you do. Specifically, think about the power structure where you work: both informal and formal leaders. If you can find one or two of them willing to support your comments when you finally share them at some meeting, the odds of others listening goes up significantly.
Another huge tactic is to position your idea as not solely your idea. Instead, be ready to quickly mention how other people on the team offered comments or showed actions in the past that influenced your perspective on the matter. You're, in essence, sharing credit for the idea and showing respect for your colleagues, while, simultaneously, criticizing the staus quo. Finally, if you're offering up contrarian ideas for change, and you actually do get the team to listen to you once in a while, you'd better be prepared to sign up to do the work implied by your idea.
If that means researching new tools, or working with a committee to map out a new process, or whatever it might be, if work is created by your idea, you have to step up and help. Otherwise, they're not likely to listen the next time you offer an idea. Contrarians often get a bad rap at work, and it's their fault. They're often too blunt, and lack subtlety. Not you; you're going to remember what we just discussed, so that you have a real shot at getting the team to listen to your idea.
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