Prepare to challenge

Have you ever thought about if you should speak of stay out of it? I have. I have spoken with both good and bad results. What I did, in the beginning, I was always stuck with the outcome. Why in the earth that happened? I wasn’t able to realize what I did or if it was the right way to confront the person. I hated the tiptoeing after the incident.

For a while, I decided just to shut up. That didn’t work either.

I believe all of the hiring managers tell us that we were hired to make valuable contributions to the organization. One can argue you’re neither doing your job well nor helping the company to succeed if you accept the status quo or poor decision-making. Or maybe you’re opinion is just the one your boss needs to avoid cognitive bias in decision making.

Silence is not always golden. But are you ready to speak up? Robert Half suggests you approach the matter as follows:

  • Prepare
  • Choose your’ battles, time and place
  • Less is more. Effecting change can take time, and depending on the issue, your manager, board, or colleague may need to step back and process your comments. 
  • Trying is everything

Of course, no matter how well you prepare, there’s always a chance your input will not be well received or acted upon by the receiver. But that’s a risk you must take if you want to have an impact at your firm and fulfill the expectations of those who hired you.

Prepare yourself for making a case

Before you start an argument or challenge someone, I recommend you to take a look at least on a few things:

  • What is your way of reacting to things? Can you spot the way your opponent reacts?
  • Are you aware of cognitive biasses?
  • Are you challenging someone in the same cultural area?

How do you react?

The way of reacting things is a visible trade of personality. It’s sudden, reflex-likee reacting which we cannot influence. If we know how we act, we know a crucial point of our ways to communicate and as a side product, can reduce our stress levels. By understanding and identifying your reaction model, it’s easier to notice the ways your opponent is reacting. 

None of the reactions is better or worse than the other. Reacting with feelings doesn’t make you automatically a drama queen. You won’t be a cold-hearted person if you react first by thinking and your action-driven reaction modeling doesn’t make you sloppy. It just tells your most familiar way of reacting things.

In reality, different ways to react can be very close to each other, and almost impossible to recognize. If you have that situation, ask your close friend or colleague how they see you. It might get you closer to your answers.

  • Action – speed, energy, and well- managed task lists. No time to discuss or have emotions prefers straight forward communications, which is short and clear.
  • Feeling- people-centric, spontaneous, and social. Multiple facial expressions and reacts readily in situations with emotions. Prefers personalized touch and visible emotions
  • Thinking – analytical, pondering, attention to details, a little distant. Prefers discussion with several points of view and time to wonder things.

What is cognitive bias?

Based on Kendra Cherrys article a cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that affects the decisions and judgments that people make. Some of these biases are related to memory. The way you remember an event may be biased for several reasons, and that, in turn, can lead to biased thinking and decision-making.

Even though cognitive bias is often a rule of thumb, our cognitive biases can get us into trouble. They sometimes result in distorted thinking that negatively impacts the choices and judgments we make. Cognitive biases also lead to stereotyping. It can become ingrained from our exposure to our culture’s biases and prejudices towards different races, religions, socioeconomic statuses, and other groups. 

Avoiding your cognitive bias turning negative, use tools that help you assess background information systematically. Surround yourself with people who are willing to challenge your opinions. Listen carefully to their views – even when they tell you something you don’t want to hear.

Cultural differences

Business negotiations, business in general, can be tricky at the best of times, but even more so if there are any cultural misunderstandings. For example, consider how people from different countries approach their goals. Future-oriented cultures like those from the US want to hear about the potential benefits of a product, while past-oriented audiences from places like India or China recognize credibility through past achievements. 

Tips if you’re coming from a culture where it’s more appropriate to disagree with others: 

  • Don’t ever force them to speak up or go around the table asking for ideas. You won’t get what you need, and it will probably result in people distancing themselves even more in the future.
  • Encourage others to speak first before you outline any of your opinions or presentations.
  • find a way to brainstorm anonymously (e.g., writing ideas on post-it notes, sticking to the board and do voting)
  • give people notice to prepare their views before the meeting, rather than being put on the spot during the meeting where a supervisor is present

Tips if you’re coming from non-confrontational cultures:

  • Firstly and most importantly, try not to take their confrontations personally. In most cases, they will not be attacking you. They are attacking just the ideas, which might have a positive impact on the further development of your product, processes, etc.
  • I’m pretty sure that even if you don’t often articulate your ideas out loud, you do have some insights that your colleagues might benefit from. If you are asked for an opinion, and you have one, give it. Use a positive language to describe it (so that it’s easier for you and well received by the others) and contribute to the team’s success.
  • If you struggle to speak up and put your ideas forward directly on a meeting, talk to your colleagues or supervisor about how you like to work. Maybe you can agree that they will give you an agenda in advance so you can better prepare for the meeting and avoid being put on the spot.