A diverse and more inclusive workplace is what many business leaders build today. As research suggested companies with diverse management teams have higher revenue as a result of innovation. A workforce consisting of different individuals will base their decisions on a wider set of considerations and ideas. And with diverse ideas, creativity and innovation will spark, leading to better outcomes.
A poorly managed diverse group of people, however, could affect negatively to company performance. A study showed that culturally diverse workplaces could increase the tendency of interpersonal conflicts due to different opinions, thoughts, beliefs, norms, and more. The diversity might also result in decreased development of unity.
Now, imagine you have to work with someone who has completely different ideas, thoughts, and behaviours. You might feel discomfited from time to time, especially if the ‘awkward’ person does not realise their strange behaviour or thought. They simply do not have a sense of understanding and always testing your limits.
What can you do when you are facing such co-workers or teams?
When diverse minds are working together, conflicts are bound to happen from time to time; especially if differences are poorly managed. But there is always a trick to create a harmonious collaboration with someone who is completely different from you. Here is how:
1. Treat with respect
No matter how difficult, different, stubborn a person is, treating them with respect can always strengthen a crack relationship, harmonising the situation between you and your coworker. All sorts of crazy stuff might also happen on a long enough timeline when you work with someone who is completely different from you, but what’s more important at the end - in a relationship - is valuing the relationship itself, such as emotional support, having fun together, having lunch or coffee break and talking like a normal friend.
2. Find common ground
TED Talk Speaker Kelly McDonald said that as humans, we essentially want to work together and help each other despite our differences. There might be conflict at first when two different minds meet each other, but as time goes, the differences will create a stronger connection. Finding common ground is the first step one can do to build a connection out of differences. Simple conversations make people feel valued. Therefore, you can start showing that you are interested in them and build threads by finding the same interest that connects diverse characters.
3. Don’t assume negatively about them
Just because someone cannot mingle with your group or have the same thoughts as you, it does not mean they do it intentionally. They are simply being who they are and they might also feel frustrated for not being able to get along with the team. When you encounter a co-worker like this, don’t assume negatively about them. Instead, you should approach the person slowly and differently. Ask why they never attend or have lunch together with the team. By having a compassionate conversation, the said individual might be more open about themselves and slowly they will be able to adapt.
4. If the situation gets worse, you should be an icon of starting a healthy conflict
Conflict is like playing a chess game. You try to figure out ways to defeat the others. And in a game, there is always a dirty and healthy way to win. People might not notice you when you play a dirty chess game, but in a game of life, playing dirty will only make your life harder. You should always have a healthy conflict in a business disagreement. How to do that? It is by thinking that real innovation can only come from people who think and see things differently. Disagreements can be a good weapon to lead and create a constructive discussion, real learning, and better solution.
To create a healthy conflict, there should be one person who initiates it - and the person can be You. You should remain non-judgmental, non-defensive, and not feel the need to win every argument. Stay in control and get maximum benefit by asking open-ended and relevant questions.
The sooner you learn to deal with differences, the quicker you will grow stronger as a professional!