Allowing Space for Respectful Disagreement in the Workplace

What does respect look like? How does it impact dialogue in the workplace?   

If Chris, the company owner, issues a directive that many believe to be a bad idea, is it more respectful to say nothing or to speak up? 

Chris may feel “respected” if everyone just listens and says nothing. However, silence may lead to significant business losses. Certainly, the decision to share or remain silent depends on the personalities of the individuals in the room. However, it also reflects the business’ unwritten policy regarding open dialogue.  

When a business owner or organizational leader encourages dialogue and open sharing, people are more likely to contribute to the conversation and help advance the mission.  

Speaking up may be the most respectful action. Silence, while knowing the likely negative impact of the directive, may be disrespectful to the overall business.

It helps to clarify if someone’s silence really does mean acceptance. Danger exists in assuming what a person’s words or actions mean.

Approaching conversations with curiosity helps clarify what someone’s words or silence mean. This opens space for conflict resolution or conflict prevention. While it takes time and trust to create such a space, it often increases morale, productivity, and overall business success. 

Does your business and organization foster space for respectful disagreement? What is your unwritten policy for openly sharing concerns? How well do people trust that their ideas will be respectfully received?

Sherry Ann Bruckner

Sherry Ann Bruckner

Most widely known as Lonzo's human, mediator, speaker, and author Sherry Ann Bruckner works with leaders and organizations to create peace, resolve conflict, and transform visions into results.

From her twenty-plus years' experience practicing civil and family law, and her own personal experiences with silence and violence, Sherry Ann understands how much inner peace impacts outer peace. A graduate of Hamline University's College of Liberal Arts and William Mitchell College of Law, she also studied conflict resolution at Rothberg International School in Jerusalem. Sherry serves as a neutral on matters ranging from bias and employment discrimination to marriage dissolution and caring for aging parents. A speaker and trainer on the global stage, Sherry gives you and your audience practical skills and the confidence to use embrace your personal power to create peace. Through helping thousands of people navigate their way through conflict, and finding her own way to inner peace, she shares the transformational power of clarity, compassion, curiosity, and cribbage.

Visit to learn more or give her a call at (320) 808-3212.
Sherry Ann Bruckner

Be gentle with you. Be gentle with all. Be the peace.