Ask HR: My colleague always agrees with everyone, is that really normal?

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What you need to know:

  • Encourage him to speak freely if he does not agree with others. It is advisable to be polite when expressing divergent opinion.


  • Organisations that allow experimentation and divergent views succeeds as employees become more innovative.


  • The opposite is also true, since employees feel stifled and often do not thrive in such an environment. They may opt to grow their careers elsewhere.

My colleague plays it safe by being too agreeable. We work closely together and we often have to make key decisions, but he just waits for my suggestions and then heartily agrees. How do I speak to him about this without hurting his feelings?

The company culture contributes to the way employees interact and behave in an organisation. Some organisations don’t tolerate mistakes and don’t encourage divergent views. Therefore, employees always tread carefully and avoid expressing opposing opinions. Rarely do they experiment or give their honest views for fear of making mistakes or becoming a laughing stock. I suggest that in future, when there is a major decision to be made, discuss collectively then give everyone time before you agree on anything. Perhaps your colleague prefers to think things through before making a decision.

You also need to tell your colleague that any decision that is made jointly might come with consequences, therefore it is advisable that he also contributes to the discussion and decision making. Encourage him to speak freely if he does not agree with others. It is advisable to be polite when expressing divergent opinion. Organisations that allow experimentation and divergent views succeeds as employees become more innovative. The opposite is also true, since employees feel stifled and often do not thrive in such an environment. They may opt to grow their careers elsewhere.

Your colleague might also fear losing his job. Perhaps he has a previous experience of being chided for his contribution in a meeting. He might also have low esteem as a result of his past experiences in other organisation or his personal encounters. He must work on his self-esteem by discussing his fears with a career coach. This will force him to face his fears and work on a strategy to overcome any barriers he might have. The coach will assess if he requires coaching or counselling, and refer him to a professional. Ask for his view before you make a major decision. If it is the right decision, applaud him and ensure that you tell your colleagues and your supervisor that the decision taken was suggested by your colleague and you are in agreement with it. This way you motivate him and also boost his self-esteem. Chances are that the next time he will be more willing to contribute.

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