Prof. Peter Coleman: Solve Workplace Struggles With Activist Tactics

In Harvard Business Review, Prof. Peter Coleman explored how employees can use tactics from the world of political activism to address a boss who asks them to take illegal, immoral, or unethical actions.

Coleman and his co-author Robert Ferguson wrote, "We recommend an approach we call principled rebellion. This is an active and deliberate choice to rebel at work incrementally and strategically to minimize harm with maximum integrity. It entails learning how to say no, systematically and sequentially, by slowly turning up the heat on those in charge." They recommended starting out by appealing to the boss's self-interest, then "emphasizing what seems fair and decent" in order to get the person to consider the broader implications of what they're suggesting. "If 1 and 2 don’t work, then it is best to quietly refuse." After that, an employee may want to ally themselves with others in the organization who share their concerns.

Read the rest of the tips in Harvard Business Review, and find out more about the M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.