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The workplace has no shortage of argumentative people.  When communicating with them, here are some tips to get you through it.

1.   Don’t ask their opinion. If you know they are prone to debating, asking their opinion will only invite the argument to begin.  Instead, be specific about what you need done.

2.  Avoid these provoking phrases. They alert the argumentative person that a controversy is brewing and puts them on the defensive.

  • I don’t want to argue with you.
  • Let’s discuss this peacefully.
  • I’m sure we can come to an agreement if…

3.  Use these phrases that diffuse conflict. They show that you are listening and value their point of view, without actually agreeing with it.

  • I understand what you mean.
  • That’s an interesting point.
  • Yes, I know many people feel that way.
  • OK, I see your point.
  • I see what you are saying.

4. Remember that argumentative people seek power and control.  Be clear and concise in your communication.  Let them have ownership in the outcome by including as much of their input as possible.

5.  State the outcome clearly. Leave no room for interpretation. “So the next steps will be…”, “So, together, we have decided that…”

Post your tips and experiences dealing with argumentative co-workers or employees in the workplace!

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