Agree to Disagree: How to Settle an Argument with a Coworker

You could scream.

You could stomp your feet.

You could turn on your heels, run to the nearest corner and pout.

Well you could, but these options won’t do anything to settle an argument with a coworker.

Disagreements at work can happen anytime, anywhere – over issues large and small. When you lock horns with a fellow employee, what’s the best way to resolve the dispute and move on? Below, PrideStaff shares a few tips to try:

Realize that conflict can be healthy.

Constructive conflict is an important part of group dynamics. If you find yourself in a disagreement, don’t think of it as the end of the world – think of it as an opportunity to grow. The most successful work groups and teams use conflict to generate new ideas, improve processes and function better as a unit.

Acknowledge your role.

Even if you’re not the one who provoked the argument, it takes two to fight. While it’s tempting to automatically blame the other party, consider whether you could be even partially at fault. Take a deep breath and examine your role in the conversation’s derailment.

Stay professional and positive.

Conflict heightens emotions and can lead to negative, reactive behavior. If you or your coworker loses your temper, take a break to regain your composure. Disagreements are resolved more effectively when both parties are calm, collected and positive.

Set a few rules for engagement.

When you return to the discussion, establish ground rules for resolving the disagreement civilly:

  • Stick to the facts.
  • Avoid name-calling, blame-placing, sarcasm and personal attacks.
  • Keep your voice calm and your volume under control.
  • Take turns when speaking (i.e., don’t interrupt).
  • Use “I” instead of “you” statements to keep the discussion from turning back into an argument.
  • Ask respectful questions to understand the other party’s point of view.
  • Limit the conversation to the issue at hand, and focus on work behaviors.

Get to the heart of the matter.

Work together to determine the root cause of the disagreement. Often, arguments erupt due to miscommunications, false assumptions or lack of understanding. Before you can resolve anything, you must first understand what the real issue is – and what’s at stake.

Move toward resolution.

Once you’ve defined the problem, discuss potential solutions. Start by laying out the things you agree upon, and then moving onto areas where you’re willing to compromise. Keep the conversation positive by focusing on the desired outcome.

Agree to disagree.

Despite your best efforts, you may not devise a perfect solution – and that’s okay. If you cannot resolve the dispute, you may have to respectfully agree to disagree. Acknowledge that you still need to work with one another, and commit to making the most of whatever areas of agreement or compromise you reach.


Don’t let an argumentative coworker drive you nuts.

Take control of your job situation with a little help from PrideStaff. We’ll take the time to understand the type of organizational culture you’ll thrive in, and then present opportunities that are a great match for your skills, experience and personality. Contact the PrideStaff office in your area to find out more about great local jobs.