America’s workplaces are polarized.
Whether actively or silently, people in America today have significantly different views on a wide variety of topics – and this can create challenges in the workplace. The first sentence of the cover story from the most recent issue of Harvard Business Review states:
“One of the most difficult challenges leaders of all organization face is managing diverse perspectives.”
Following are suggestions from the article on how leaders can cultivate a mindset that encourages receptiveness to colleagues with different points of view and builds trust:
*Defuse fears of disagreeing with others. Take the lead in respectfully disagreeing with others to role model how it is done and show that it is not as “scary” as people might think. Seek points of agreement during your dialogue with others. Direct disagreement toward the task, not the person.
*Teach people to be open-minded. Intentionally and honestly consider information from the opposite perspective. Make sure that you can accurately articulate the other person’s point of view. Focus on learning from others rather than arguing with them.
*Pick your words carefully. Soften your claims. Rather than “always,” say “sometimes” or “often.” Emphasize agreement before identifying the areas in which there is disagreement. Acknowledge the validity of other views.
*Foster a culture that encourages tolerance. Establish a tone that receptiveness to other perspectives is the norm. Practice respectful disagreement with one another. Do not tolerate destructive confrontation.
Leaders need to role model and promote all of these behaviors. If you do this you can enhance effective communication, de-escalate negative emotions, and build greater trust throughout your organization.
*Ideas for this blog taken from: Minson, J. & Gino, F. “Managing a Polarized Workforce,” Harvard Business Review, March – April 2022, pp. 62-71.