You've probably seen it in the headlines before: we are more polarized than ever. Politics, the climate, the shape of the Earth — people are disagreeing about all of it, and that can take a real toll on our everyday lives, at work and home.

So, how do we deal with all these polarizing beliefs? In this episode of Alumni Know, we turn to Liane Davey (MASc '95, PhD '99). Known as the "teamwork doctor," she's advised hundreds of teams on how to work together effectively. Her newest book, The Good Fight, is all about conflict. Watch the video to hear her advice on how we can disagree with others in a more productive way.

Takeaways from Liane

Don't agree to disagree

Agreeing to disagree often means that we choose to stay misaligned on an issue, or to keep an open wound in the relationship. In the vast majority of cases, Liane says we should work through the disagreement. (1:00) This approach is particularly harmful in the workplace, where agreeing to disagree can stall actions needed to move the organization forward and teams need to work together. (1:50)

Facts don't solve fights

Conflicts are not about the facts. The real root of a conflict lies in your values and beliefs, and we tend to approach the conflict by presenting all the facts that support those beliefs. It's more effective to ask question that help you understand the other person's values. (5:15)

Try presenting potential solutions

To help create some resolution, Liane likes to "trial a close." Offer a potential solution in the form of an open-ended question: "What if we did this? Would that work for you?" If the other person doesn't accept the trial, ask more questions to better  understand their position. (12:05)