Finding common ground makes it easier to work with someone different. (rawpixel.com pic)
In business you will meet people from all walks of life. Working alongside someone with completely different views can be incredibly challenging.
Culture-fit hiring ensures that employees are all singing the same tune, but is that really the best way forward for a successful business team?
Research shows that diverse teams perform better. Companies with diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue as a result of innovation.
Diverse minds, approaches and ideas lead to better outcomes. But, what does that mean for employees?
Also, if diversity is a key driver of success, how do you work with people who are different from you?
Find common ground
Kelly McDonald, marketing and consumer trends expert, believes it is possible and beneficial for leaders and managers in business to navigate the minefield of conflict and misunderstanding diversity can bring.
McDonald observes that humans essentially want to work together and help each other, despite our differences. Finding common ground is step one to building a connection. No matter how tenuous, it’s a start.
Simple conversations make people feel valued, show that you are interested in them and build bridges. Finding common ground can connect diverse characters.
Remember no one is perfect
According to Deep Patel, author of the book “A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success”, it helps to remember that nobody’s perfect.
In an article about how successful leaders deal with people they don’t like, Patel argues that whatever you feel about a person you find it difficult to work with, they probably feel the same about you.
Although it can be tough working with a challenging person, they can offer useful insights as they see the world differently from you. Open your eyes to difference and it will help you to see things from a new perspective.
This is the starting point for innovation. Your ideas aren’t the only ideas and they aren’t always the best. Successful business people understand this. Let go of the need to be right and always remember nobody is perfect, including you.
It will feel uncomfortable
Working with people you find difficult to get along with will feel uncomfortable at first. The point here is that it’s ok to feel uncomfortable.
Once you start finding common ground, working with someone who is different gets easier. It may never be a walk in the park, but once you are over the initial hurdle you will begin to see the benefits.
Conflict is only a difference of opinion
Collaboration can be challenging when people are markedly different, but having different opinions doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Healthy debate can lead to change and innovation.
According to Elisabet Vinberg Hearn, managing director of Think Solutions: “Differences exist in culture, linguistics, politics, religion, personality, gender, values and many other aspects. They are all opportunities. Full stop.’
In overly competitive work cultures certain colleagues can clam up. “Look at me” cultures miss out on ideas that could take the business forward.
There’s nothing wrong with competition, but good business culture needs to embrace difference and find ways to ensure inclusivity in the business decision-making process.
Always be professional and respectful
Being civil is important in business and that also applies to the way you treat people you find difficult. Always approach every conversation with the same diplomacy.
Try to share your opinions without being antagonistic. When you don’t agree, McDonald reminds us that it is ok to say “I see things differently.”
Stay professional and civil, and conflict is much less likely to escalate. There are nuggets of gold to be mined working with people who aren’t like you if you are open to finding them.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the world’s first blog psychologist and founder of Psychreg. As an international mental health advocate, he speaks at various conferences around the world.