Supporting Opinions in Diverse Professional Workplaces

Supporting Opinions in Diverse Professional Workplaces

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-7308-5.ch008
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Communicating arguments and opinions in workplace environments are the foundation of establishing and maintaining relationships between all levels of the organization. This chapter establishes a definition of an argument and explores the different occasions, types, and models of argument construction. Different logical fallacies are also covered, and examples of each fallacy are tailored specifically to professional contexts. This chapter also examines the intersection of culture, language, and persuasion. The chapter concludes by discussing the diversity of persuasion styles and how different cultures conceptualize the nature of persuading others.
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In his famous play The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, Oscar Wilde (1895) wrote the famous line “I dislike arguments of any kind…they are always vulgar, and often convincing.” Wilde’s trademark wit and insight are on full display in the quote, but it also serves as a useful way to understand why the word “argument” evokes such anger and consternation. This chapter will discuss in later sections why arguments in the workplace are an inevitable - and oftentimes necessary - byproduct of human interactions in a professional context. However, despite this, it is common to avoid arguments. An important factor in explaining this is the physical and emotional toll of participating in them. This also holds true in workplace environments but with the added element of the enormous financial cost. In a study on the economic impact of workplace conflict, researchers found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours each week dealing with conflict, which equates to approximately $359 billion in paid hours of lost productivity (CPP Inc., 2008).

Beyond economic necessity, it is important to understand how to construct and articulate logical arguments in the workplace to improve public discourse on a societal level. In the field of human resources, burgeoning research indicates that misinformation is leading to an increase in deceit taking place in workplace settings. Vasist and Chatterjee (2023) found that falsehoods and other disinformation are deterring potential employees from applying for relevant jobs and are being used to fool employers as part of the recruitment and hiring process. Additionally, Lim and Kim (2022) found that the rise of disinformation through a growing number of digital channels is leading to increased stress and pressure on internal crisis communication workers. This is backed up by other research which found that organizations that are ineffective in combatting crisis misinformation experience lower levels of employee wellbeing (Jin, et al., 2020). The effects of logical fallacies and misinformation goes is also having an impact on broader workplace communication. Much like the appeal of spreading juicy gossip among friend groups, articulating arguments that either willingly or unwillingly misrepresent the facts can become very popular very quickly. The invention of online forums provided spaces for illogical arguments to find large audiences. According to an analysis of news stories with the highest total Facebook engagements during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the stories from legitimate news outlets totaled 7.3 million engagements while stories from fake news outlets totaled 8.7 million engagements (Lee, 2016). Similar research in workplace environments reveals similar issues. A 2017 study of 3,272 leaders and professionals in the United States found that 59% of respondents were concerned about ‘fake news’ and 64% are concerned about ‘alternative facts’ in the workplace (, 2017).

This body of evidence illustrates the need for employers and employees to instill a culture of professional argument construction for workplaces to thrive in the present and future. The next section will define and explain what an argument is and the different types and models to construct arguments. There will also be an explanation of the different logical fallacies and strategies to promote culturally inclusive arguments in diverse workplaces. The objectives of the chapter are:

  • Explain how to create strong arguments

  • Explain how to avoid using logical fallacies in workplace environments.

  • Explain what needs to be done to construct culturally-sensitive arguments for diverse workplaces.

What is an Argument?

Figure 1.

worried couple with notebook

Source: Subiyanto (2020)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Logical Fallacy: Errors in reasoning that undermines the credibility and believability of an argument.

Forensic Arguments: Statements that deal specifically with past events.

Backing: The evidence in support of the warrant.

Deliberative Arguments: Statements that advocate for future policy changes or address what might happen in the future.

Qualifiers: Limitations that are placed on a claim.

Ceremonial Arguments: Statements that explore the current beliefs, norms, or assumptions of a society or culture.

Persuasive Style: Differences in the ways people prefer to arrange evidence, assumptions, and claims.

Evidence: The use of statistics, facts, expert testimony, and other objective snapshots of reality to support the foundation for the claim.

Argument: The use of spoken, written, or visual language expressing a point of view.

Claim: The argument that is attempted to be proven.

Arguments of Policy: Statements that address whether a course of action or solution to a problem ought to be taken.

Warrants: The underlying rationales and assumptions which support the claim.

Arguments of Value: Statements that use different ethical or moral appeals to address claims of right and wrong.

Arguments of Fact: Statements that use different forms of specific evidence and credible testimony to address claims of truth.

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