Office Arguments: Is Your Viewpoint Making Things Worse?

Creative Commons License photo credit: philippe leroyer

After a few token pleasantries my friends start complaining about office arguments and work politics every single time I see them. The funny things is, I often think that their inability to let go of their viewpoint is just making things worse.

I have thought about this a lot lately because it seems to me that almost everyone is having arguments and disagreements at work. My mother hates the firm’s accountant. My father disagrees with his partner. My brother isn’t getting paid enough.

The thing that interests me the most is that no one is trying to develop any strategies to deal with these issues in the long term. I am guilty of it as much as anyone. I often find myself stooping to the level of talking behind people’s back and gossiping instead of doing something useful with the situation.

I have wanted to write about this issue for a long time so in this post I want to look at:

  • how to tell if your viewpoint is making things worse
  • how to let go of an opinion you have held for a long time
  • some viewpoints that always seem to make it worse

How to tell if your viewpoint is making things worse

When we get in an argument at work the first thing we always think is that we are right and the other person is wrong. We hold on to our views so tightly and do not want to let them go.

But why? What does this accomplish? Surely we have those views in the first place because we feel that they are correct and true and just and are going to make us happy. But if the office argument is getting worse because we will not let go of our dogma then maybe they are not as effective as we first thought.

Letting go
One way to tell whether your viewpoint is making matters worse is to look at your mind and see if you are able to “let go” easily. If you carry around the anger and the resentment all day and then further on into the week then chances are your view is making things worse and needs to be reassessed.

Length of the argument
Another way to tell whether your opinions and views are making things worse is to be aware of how long the argument lasts. If you are able to talk to the person about the issue and make some progress then perhaps your view is logical and valid. However, if the argument lasts for many days then something is wrong.

How to let go of a view you have had for a long time

Here is the problematic issue – what if your view is “correct” and the other person just doesn’t want to admit it? What if there are cultural issues that prevent you or the other person from seeing things in a different light? This makes things more tricky. However, it is important to try and be as open as possible. Be open to the fact that even though something might be true to you it might not be true for someone else.

If you are really struggling to let go of your view and really want to fight for it there is one simple test that you can apply – is it hurting anyone. This is the one thing that you can fall back on when debating whether your view is correct or not. If it is hurting people in the short term or long term then it is time to let go.

Letting go of long held views is not an easy thing. Some people hold on to their opinions as much as a murderer holds on to the story that he is innocent. It seems that we place some of our selves in our opinions and we think that if we lose them we will lose a part of us.

But where are these opinions? Where do they exist? Have we formulated them based on logic or emotion or because that’s what our parents thought? Do they live in our brains or in our hearts or somewhere else? When we die where do they go? Do they have a shape or a color? When I look at my opinions and viewpoints in this way (when I am really angry) I realize that they don’t really exist as solidly as I would like and it gives me some space to consider the other persons standpoint.

Changing your perspective

Creative Commons License photo credit: OrangeLimey

Letting go of viewpoints that you have had for a long time is mostly about shifting your perspective and trying to see things from another point of view. In some cases this will be the hardest thing in the world to do, especially when you are charged up on emotion and angry because of what the other person has said or done. But if you can shift your perspective in this situation it will be quite easy when you try to do it when you are calm.

One of the simplest and best ways to shift your perspective is to just place yourself in the other person’s shoes. How are they feeling? Why are they feeling that way? Are they perhaps unwell? Even go far back and think about how they were brought up, where they went to school and what they have had happen to them in their life. Doing this is a great way to shift your perspective and open yourself up to the possibility that your viewpoint isn’t the only one.

Some viewpoints that always seem to make things worse

Here are a few things I have done, seen done or heard about that always seem to make things worse.

  • They are just wrong and I am completely right
  • They have no idea what they are talking about
  • I am right because I have more experience/qualifications
  • I’ll get back at him/her one day
  • I’ll make his/her life miserable by…
  • I’ll show them how much they’ve hurt me by being angry whenever they’re around
  • I’ll tell everyone how horrible he/she is
  • Etc.

How often does your viewpoint make arguments worse? Are you prepared to let go to help the situation?

5 thoughts on “Office Arguments: Is Your Viewpoint Making Things Worse?

  1. Hey Daily Minder,
    Great post as usual.
    One of the things that I was taught by a mentor at my first corporate gig was never disagree with anyone. But, know when to take a stand.
    Office politics is surely one of the most stressful aspects of any job. And, if you just agree all the time you are seen as weak. But, if you disagree too often you are seen as a trouble maker. Knowing when to agree and disagree, is part of the art of corporate success.
    But, if you can rise above the “game” and be unattached to your argument, whether it supports or opposes the current mood of the office, you will be exponentially more effective than the next person.

  2. JB you are so right – it is about balance and not being too attached to your position. It is sad that the “game” gets in the way of doing the right thing – people not being themselves because they think it will get in the way of their career.


  3. People have a lot of anxiety. The are worried about not being successful, of what people think, of what it will mean if they do not fall into line on the corporate merry-go-round. Should be more like corporate stress-go-round. The thing that I think is sad is the people that actually win at the corporate game, and ascend to the dizzy heights of upper management (said with tongue in cheek). How often do they consider the other people in the process with affection and generosity? And how much of their humanity is still intact by the time they get there? It seems like the corporate animal is set to devour the creative identity (and spirit) of every bright mind that is thrown to the wolves, or is the the sharks.. I am trying to forget ;).

  4. I agree with JB
    By the way, daily mind i am new reader to your blog & I enjoy topics of interest as always…keep it up!

    Re: Arguments–I usually avoid arguments that are emotionally inclined i.e. if I find myself more emotional than rational then I drop the matter and let it go. Also, I pick up arguments that I feel others or individuals have suffered. For instance, if the system in place has failed to acknowledge the event or incident then I may pick up the argument wanting a change. But of course, I make sure the evidence is sound. This again follows being in the other people’s shoes when they are oppressed. Sometimes I end up being labelled but as long as I speak about my own experiences or others then I have made my point. Lastly, I have one principle in life about arguments involving people, I avoid at all costs to talk or listen in length about other people for more than 5 minutes be it good or bad news! I consider myself as an important being in this universe in creating harmonious energy and not a meddler of other people’s affairs 😉

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