Communication Problems

March 22, 2024

I was attending a meeting, where we were debating some significant decision. At a certain point someone said: “I disagree”. I lost my cool. I got aggressive and the meeting atmosphere changed and became negative. The meeting was with raised voices, we were interrupting each other and not having the respectful interaction preached by the methodology. The person who disagreed did not understand why I was lashing at him, why the aggression. He even asked, “can’t I disagree on anything?” It felt like I was not walking my talking. That I was hypocritical. On one hand, I lecture about mutual respect, how we should learn from each other’s disagreements, but when someone disagrees with me I go wild.


What happened?

My style is of an (E).


Declaring “I disagree“ to an (E) is worse than stepping on his toes1.

(E)s want to debate all the 360 sides of an argument, elaborate the idea , create on the run, make a passionate claim why something is absolutely right and minutes later claim it is a mistake and should not be even considered etc.


To an (E), the word, “Disagree” means that the person who said it wants to stop the discussion and the investigation of the idea, something (E)s love to do. (E) find it offensive, rude, and a challenge to their right to speak, or to their authority or position in the company. It hurts their ego.


What might have happened though, is that the person who said “I disagree” was not communicating that they want to discontinue the discussion and move on. He meant to say, “I have a different opinion”, “I think there is another alternative”, or that specific subject that is being discussed they cannot accept; They are still open to investigate the issue.

What to do?


It makes sense to disagree, if there is nothing to discuss anymore, if the discussion is a cul de sac discussion, going around in circles, repeating arguments over and over again. In that case, to be sure there is no more new information, someone, usually one with the (P) or (A) style should repeat the decision being taken and why it is being taken and ask the (E) if all the factors are on the table, nothing more to be added. If the (E) confirms that all factors have been covered, and there is nothing new to discuss, then and only then, the person who has the responsibility to implement has to choose from three choices:

  1. If the subject decided is not critical, as they see it, then they should communicate that they disagree with the decision but will take on the responsibility to implement.
  2. If the decision is of higher importance, the second choice is to implement the decision but go on record that they disagreed with the decision. If decision that got implemented turns to be a disaster, especially if it was well implemented, the person who took the decision should be held responsible.
  3. If the subject decided is of major critical significance and violates the judgement of the one to implement the decision, they should put it in writing that if they are required to implement, they would rather resign.

Now, who is taking the decision has to judge: is the value of the decision higher than the cost of losing an executive or vice versa, and act accordingly.


Always learning,


PS: starting with this blog I will be using the Adizes lingo of PAEI and capi . Those that are not familiar with the Adizes concepts in order to benefit from the blogs, should read at least Ichak Adizes: Mastering Change.


 1 . For those who want to delve deeper on the subject, see Ichak Adizes: Leading the Leaders.
Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes