Knowing how to communicate effectively – especially when there’s disagreement over the best course of action or the way forward – is an important skill to have in the workplace. Inevitably there will be times when your colleagues or peers disagree with your point of view. Recent research by the University of California, Berkley, however, has shown that where there are differences of opinion in the office, those employees that communicated face-to-face rather than resorting to emails were more likely to persuade others of the validity of their viewpoint. And so, in this article we present three ways to help you put your case forward as persuasively and effectively as possible.

1.       Choose your words wisely

If you are presenting your case in writing, then it’s important to choose your words wisely. Try not to be dismissive of the other person’s viewpoint even if it is the polar opposite to your own. Use non-emotive, uncontroversial language and present your case using fact-based and to-the-point arguments. Make sure that you keep the discussion on a professional level even if the stakes are high.

2.       Present your argument in person if possible

If possible, it’s always a good idea to put forward your point of view in person. You are far more likely to have a favourable reception if the communication is face to face. So much of our communication includes non-verbal cues – even your tone of voice can make a difference and all these important signals are absent from a written presentation. And so, if you are trying to convince you boss that a particular course of action is the way to go, then speaking to them in person is more likely to result in a positive outcome.

3.       Use video conferencing rather than email

If your boss is away at a conference, or your argument is with a colleague in another office hundreds of kilometres away, then rather than sending an email to get your point across, make sure you use video conferencing technology. If it’s not possible to have a face-to-face discussion, then a video call is the next best option. So, before you send that email, open Skype, Facebook Messenger or FaceTime for an audio or video call.  If you want to win the argument, then it’s important that the recipient of your message can hear the variance and paralinguistic cues in your voice.

Different points of view and even the occasional clash over a course of action are an inevitable part of the workplace.  Learning to communicate your way through those conflicts and knowing how to present your case as persuasively as possible is an important skill. Use these tips to help you get started.