Expressing contrary opinions during group discussions require great skills. Every group member has an equal right to make contributions to the topic under discussion. How do you express contrary opinions during group discussions without creating discord and demeaning the contribution of others? It is common to hear people say, “I disagree with you on that”, or jump into a conversation by saying, “the best way to go about it is…”. I spent last week working in a group of 12 executives, identifying and analyzing business problems and providing recommendations to the board. It was a great experience that I feel proud to share what I have learned working with these top executives. A team can only function well and be productive when the opinion of each member is respected. Even when a party is wrong, it takes humility and respect to acknowledge the contribution and politely make your suggestions.
What Not to Do in Group Discussion
It is not a good leadership trait to interrupt others when speaking. It is good to listen and allow the other member to finish his or her thought before putting yours across. Every contribution that leads to a fierce argument is counterproductive and can defeat the reason for the group discussion. It is not a debate on whose opinion is better, it is a brainstorming session that should help the team make the best conclusion.
It is so helpful to be emotionally intelligent because member could unintentionally hurt one another. Learn to address the issue and not the personality. Try not to dominate the discussion with your contributions. One member could be quiet, it does not mean he or she does not have a better opinion. Most wise men and women, speak less. Being completely quiet and not making any contribution could also be interpreted as being proud.
A Productive Group Discussion
Individual member has a major role to play for the group discussion to be productive. No two individuals have the exact same thought process on an issue. During one of our gatherings, we were assigned to solve a case study, United Cereal: Lora Brill’s Eurobrand challenge. I read the case study at least twice and thought I have had a complete grip on Lora Brill’s Eurobrand challenge. I was stunned when I listened to the intelligent analysis and contributions from my group members. This really humbles me and thought me a great lesson on team spirit. We assigned responsibilities with some executives had to work till mid-night to compile the slides for our presentation the following day. It was a rewarding experience for all of us.
The Power of Team Spirit
In a team, it is important to understand that each member sometimes has a different work ethic and culture. Our ability to recognize each other’s differences and leverage on the individual strength is what creates the synergetic effect. We must learn to showcase the power of the team; we achieve more when we collaborate than individual efforts. If you are in a team where the team leader is either domineering or are not team player, you can still make a change. Respectively, demonstrate the appropriate skills required during team engagement. Disagree politely, Respect others’ perspectives as well, and agree with what is right, even if you initially had a different view.
Joshua Adeyemi (EMBA27)