Dealing with dissent

“May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.”

~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dealing with dissenters in the workplace may be a frightening experience. It’s often difficult to hear because it’s said in an angry or frustrated tone. Dissent, on the other hand, is a blessing because it highlights holes that need to be filled and weaknesses that need to be improved. When you’re willing to listen to different perspectives, you’ll be able to develop your greatest ideas over time.

Ask for critiques

The only way to get your people to feel comfortable sharing their feedback is to invite it. Don’t assume they’re comfortable expressing it just because you like it. Ask for it directly and enthusiastically, as if you’re eager to hear it.

Ask follow-up questions

Prompt others to explain their rationale for their differing viewpoints so you can truly listen to what they have to say. Ask people what they think about the dissenting viewpoint if you’re in a group debate. Initiate a conversation that helps individuals better grasp how they feel about the topic by digging further into it.

Make sure the comments are directed to the people who need to hear them

Dissent can only be powerful if the individuals who are saying it know that it will be heard by someone who can act on it. Make sure individuals are aware of who will be listening to their opinions.

Ask for solutions

Dissidents should be challenged to provide alternative solutions, even if they are far-fetched. When people begin to think imaginatively, solutions that higher-ups could never have envisioned may emerge.

Rework the plan together

If criticisms are directed just at one person, who then reformulates the strategy on their own, new issues will surface. The strategy has to be updated by a group of people who can look at it from various perspectives and discuss any concerns that arise.

Express gratitude for the dissent

You’ll inspire more constructive dissent in the future if you express real gratitude in the workplace to someone for having the bravery to voice their criticism. Thank the individual who spoke up in front of the group for relaying the message to the rest of the group.

All icons are sourced from

Close Bitnami banner