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Disagreement? Put Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes

Irene Cascaron

Mobile Tech Leader at gMed, a Modernizing Medicine company

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Problem

"I had a manager ask me to do something that I really did not want to do. I strongly disliked what he was asking me to do and I did not see the value in it. I was straightforward and verbal about my thoughts and feelings, yet, so was my manager. He was very direct in expressing his wishes for me to take on this task. We both, thus felt very strongly about our opposing stances on this matter and so in the moment the discussion became very heated. This created a temporary conflict between the two of us."

Actions taken

I took basic steps that we all know we should take but sometimes don't follow through with. After this specific one-on-one meeting with my manager, I went home and sat with the problem. I didn't necessarily let it ruminate but I did try to see it from the point of view of my manager and tried to establish why he felt so strongly about this particular item. I knew my side of the story and why I disliked this assignment, so I imagined myself in his shoes and began writing a bullet-pointed list of reasons why he might be on the opposite side of the fence as me.

The next day I came back to work with the list in hand and asked him if he had some time to talk. At this point we had distanced ourselves a bit from the situation and so we were both much more calm and collected than compared to the previous meeting. After conversing for a while, we were able to find a middle ground. I left with an appreciation that he was trying to help and mentor me. I also realized that he if he felt that strongly about this item then I should trust him. I should trust that he was thinking about what was good for me and my career.

Lessons learned

  • "When you feel like your veins are boiling and you get that ferocious energy in your body, take a step back. Give yourself a little distance from the issue so that you can calmly approach the situation with a clear and level head. Especially if someone else feels so strongly about something, step back and put yourself in his or her shoes and imagine the viewpoints from their perspective."
  • "In this case, my manager was taking me out of my comfort zone and I was clearly not on board with that. Although, it's a great exercise to be uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable isn't necessarily something bad. On the contrary, it's something we should expose ourselves to so that we can learn and grow from it."

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Irene Cascaron

Mobile Tech Leader at gMed, a Modernizing Medicine company


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