Leaders Address Dismissing Others’ Opinions During Conflict

“You don’t know what you’re talking about – you’re not in the classroom anymore.”

I was delivering some professional development to teachers, helping them find ways to incorporate servant leadership concepts in their classrooms.

One point I was making: Sarcasm has no place in effective teaching. This point is easy to back up, but nearly always generates debate. That’s okay; it’s what I’m hoping for. People learn more in debate and healthy conflict.

But usually the objections are “My people understand me,” or “It shows I have a sense of humor,” or “It’s the way they communicate.” Not this time, though – he attacked my credibility:

“You don’t know what you’re talking about – you’re not in the classroom anymore.”

Technically, he was right. I had left the teaching profession 5 months before this session. I’m not sure that warranted a “You’re out of touch!” accusation.

But dismissing opinions is a blocking strategy to win an argument. It also protects the ego when you hear something you don’t want to hear.

When we are afraid to give space to the ideas of others, especially when they hold up a mirror we don’t want to look into, we simply exude absolute certainty in our position, and thus relieve ourselves from any obligation to hear the other side of the story.

What to do?

When you find yourself making the conversation one-sided by dismissing the opinions of others, stop talking.

Ask questions like, “What do you think I’m missing?” or “When have you seen this in action?”

If you are witnessing your team members being dismissive of others’ opinions, push with statements like:

“Let’s give everyone a chance to share their opinion.”
“Please ask questions, instead of making blanket statements.”
“Slow down, and be careful that we’re not drowning out the thoughts of others.”

This is the 5th post in an 18-part series discussing what not to do during conflict situations. Effective leaders avoid portraying these 18 behaviors during conflict and address them in others. Follow along as we explore the negative impact of these behaviors, and what to do instead.

Post 1: Leaders Address Arguing During Conflict
Post 2: Leaders Address Belittling During Conflict
Post 3: Leaders Address Caving In During Conflict
Post 4: Leaders Address Being Defensive During Conflict

  1. jacque mccurdy
    | Reply

    Some people are always dismissive, even to point they are hostile and gaslight because they can’t problem solve thru something. So when you have a person that is like this, it very difficult to gain ground when you have to be on team, as they are always dragging the team down. yet when the rest of the team moves without them, there can be persecution in petty ways.

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