“What if it’s hard?” asked a recent team building workshop participant after we had just completed an exercise about working with people who have styles different than their own.
At the time I thought he might be joking, even though his face suggested he was not. So I tackled his question straight up.
I started by agreeing with the question’s premise. It is hard. People who are different from us challenge our values and beliefs. They force us into doing things that aren’t comfortable. They somehow manage to push our hot-buttons; leaving us frustrated, angry, and exhausted.
With that out of the way, I decided to make the case for why it is worth the effort. Here are four reasons I offered him. If you can add to the list, please do so in the comments.
If you go out of your way to accommodate others, perhaps they’ll one day return the favor. Who knows, maybe they think you’re the person they don’t want to work with. You may need them to cut you a break.
When people force you out of your comfort zone, you can’t help but learn something about them and yourself in the process.
Let’s assume for a minute that you don’t always know the right thing to do, nor do you always know the best way for doing it. Mixing it up with people who are different from you helps you discover new and often better approaches. Together you are able to more effectively solve problems than you could have on your own.
Finally it all comes down to this. We live and work together. We are social beings. For most of us, we aren’t financially in a position to pull out of our jobs or society and live in isolation. With this reality as a backdrop, what choice do you have?
Is is hard? Yep. Is it worth making the effort? Absolutely. Look around at the people with whom you work, especially the ones you don’t like. Now find a way to connect and succeed together.
Image credit: PhotKing