The new Mayor of Johannesburg fired one of his employees due to a difference of opinion recently.

I won’t go into details of the case but I would like to offer tips to other people who are in a similar situation at work who feel strongly about something important.

Taking a stand at work is brave and shows strong character but there are risks. If not done in a professional manner you risk losing your job or worse having your reputation damaged.

Protesting and disagreeing is a part of life. In South Africa we live in a democracy which means we are allowed to speak freely on issues that are important to us.

Here are some tips to making your point in a powerful, professional and productive way.

State your case in writing - Whenever there is something important that you feel is not going right. Put your concerns and misgivings in writing. This way you can take away the emotional issues and put your thoughts down on paper in a clear and logical order.

Stick to the facts and only the facts - When you are writing stick to the facts and the relevant issue at hand. You need to be addressing the issue that is important to you only and nothing else.

Do not make negative personal statements about people. People don’t like to be personally attacked. They will not respond well and will only become defensive and aggressive.

Your important issue will be relegated to bottom of the list and in its place, will be personal insults and accusations. This will not be productive and the original issue will take a back seat to possibly a shouting match or worse a fist fight. This is not the route you want to go.

Can there be a compromise? Could there be a way to find middle ground on the issue?

An example could be that the company is organizing a big end of year party. Finances are tight. Could the company organize a smaller gathering at their offices or with less food so that it doesn’t put as much strain on the company’s finances. The objective of giving people a good time and getting people to connect with each other is being met as well as reducing the cost of the function. This would be a win-win situation.

People like to feel that they are making a difference and adding value to the company. They also like to feel that the company is also looking after their interests and well-being. The fact that they feel the need to stand up to their boss or the board shows that the issue is important to them.

Disagreements don’t need to be the end of a promising career or the destruction of a relationship.

Mahatma Ghandi often organized powerful protests through his silent and peaceful protests against the government.

Rosa Parks made one of the most powerful, protest statement’s in 1955 because she didn’t give up her seat on a bus.

As mentioned, it is important to be professional when taking a stand on an issue that is important to you. You want to make your point clearly, concisely and consistently to be the most effective, especially in the work place. Many people might have had the same issue and you have just done them a huge favour and helped many people who could not have taken the stand you did.