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Guidelines for Productive Disagreement

Speaking For Yourself

  • Speak what you have experienced first-hand.
  • Don’t answer questions not meant for you.
  • Do not speculate, and clarify instead.

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Rather than getting triggered by the repeated questions that sound similar, or deflecting them, a better approach is to acknowledge the underlying problem, and provide an honest and clear answer, while providing a genuine reassurance.

Do not Critique The Questions

Being angry or judgemental towards a question is a sign of instability and weakness. Being defensive when you are an authority figure makes you dismiss other people's feelings and shut down their trust and engagement towards you.

Be honest, compassionate and acknowledge what you don’t know.

The Fallacy Of Arguments
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How Confirmation Bias Influences Our Communication
  • When we confront new information, we interpret it to support our existing beliefs. Any thought or discussion that confirms our prejudice and thought patterns seems appealing to us and is known as confirmation bias.
  • When we try to argue our case (because of course, we are right!) it strengthens the defence of the opposition.
  • However wrong it seems to us, their arguments are correct too according to the confirmation bias they have experienced, which has solidified their point of view.
Figuring Out Your Opponent's Point Of View

Get into the other person’s shoes and figure out why their point of view is so important for them.

Conflict is almost inevitable in an argument due to both the parties ‘doubling down’ on their confirmation bias. Instead of going the way of souring your relations, a better approach is to have an open mind and simply understand the other person’s point of view.

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“Be A Strong Writer”

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Accessible Language
  • Use of caps lock, emojis, italics and tildes (~) to make your language flowery, fun and human is a great idea for remote working. You can also use memes and gif images, provided they are not offensive to anyone.
  • Robot speak is not a good way to freely collaborate with your remote peers. Use simple words, and keep it on the casual side, skipping the inaccessible and stilted language. You can also opt for contractions like writing isn’t instead of is not.
Be Clear And Concise
  • Do not obscure your message by words that are there to decorate the sentence and make it sound wordy while camouflaging what you mean.
  • Make good use of qualifiers ("I think, In my opinion") while not coming across as a perpetually confused person. Don’t use qualifiers while making a strong point.
  • While writing documentation, it is prudent to avoid jargon and acronyms.
  • Use complete words and sentences. Shortcuts and acronyms block any actual communication, acting as roadblocks. On the same lines, avoid cliches, idioms and any idiotic sounding phrase that catches the ear well but doesn’t really do any good to anyone.
  • Remote working is often on a global scale, and certain expressions will not be understood by some participants, or worse, will be misunderstood.
  • Your words and tone should be tailored according to your audience. The words are different when you are writing to a client, and when you are in a small group chat with your peers. More people in chat also means adopting a polished, professional tone.