Dan Maxwell
June 12, 2019

Image by Rawpixel, Pixabay

How do we reach agreement when more than person has a great idea?

In a previous post, we outlined the challenge of great communication – an art, but one that’s not easy to master. We said one of the ways of reducing tension was to understand where others are coming from – which helps to avoid passing judgement on other’s ideas, giving them a chance to be heard. But sooner or later, when 2 different people have 2 different ideas, they’ll disagree. How are we to reach agreement when more than one person has a great idea?

Simply ask: “what is our goal?”

This approach has two clear benefits:

1. Objectivity – maintaining a focus on the problem at hand keeps the conversation from getting personal

If there isn’t a common goal – the other person becomes a target!

2. Synergy – combining perspectives to solve the problem is smarter

But how can this work when everyone thinks in a different way? For example, consider a planning session where:

Assertive members press for their ideas to be accepted and are ready to defend them.

The Accommodating wait their turn and tactfully offer their views.

Th Big Picture thinkers “turn over” various possibilities, looking for the one that’s most crucial to the company’s success.

The Detailed quickly think of all the factors related to every possibility and start to create lists – only to realize others have moved on to a new idea some time ago.

In other words, the personality of each member shapes the kind of ideas they share, and the way they interact with them.

This might seem to make communication even more complex and reaching agreement an even greater challenge – until we come back to the question: what does the team need to accomplish?

In this scenario, the answer is straight forward: a strategic plan that will move the company forward. Put together the goal and each person’s “thinking style,” and suddenly their roles in this conversation become clear:

The Assertive cast a vision and assume the risk of the ultimate decision.

The Accommodating point out the impact on members of the organization at large and express their concern about the implications.

Big Picture thinkers sort through the various factors and point to the greatest obstacles.

Detailed people advise of potential pitfalls – and when the decision is made, outline the plan.

Yes, this requires additional information – which tools like Pro.file can easily generate. But without these insights, discussions wander while some do all the talking and others – with good ideas – are never heard. Unity erodes. Morale wanes. Confusion reigns.

Unless we have a clear goal in mind, different ideas simply lead to more debate.

But if everyone focuses on the goal and gives the opinion of each one due consideration based on their unique perspective, it is much easier to reach agreement with “half the heat and twice the light.”

For a unique resource on the topic of making differences work together (inspiring the above), consider Ray Dalio’s approach outlined in “Principles”. To paraphrase life principle 4.1a, traits can be used in a positive way, or get in our way (see LinkedIn Post).