Learn to Play with People Who Don’t Act Like You

November 28, 2012

I personally love that my work has a global impact and I can interact with talented colleagues all over the world. The good news is it creates an opportunity for different perspectives to result in better ideas and solutions. The bad news is it can create differences of opinion and approaches that can be frustrating at times. So how do I maximize the goodness this creates while recognizing and minimizing the challenges? I recently attended a panel discussion by five amazing women in high-tech who had some helpful tips.

I listed some of my personal favorites but I recommend you check out the full recording.

  • “Different is different, it’s not wrong”
  • Self-awareness is important – know who you are, what you’re good and not-so-good at, and what pushes your buttons
  • – Take assessments like Meyers Briggs (MBTI) and Strength Development Inventory/SDI (colors)

  • Be more “other centric” (e.g.: focus on the other person rather than yourself)
  • Take the time to get to know people personally, when conflict arises, it’s easier to address when you have a relationship (e.g.: have coffee with them, get to know them, share pictures)
  • – Interact in person whenever possible, video is good, phone is hard but better than email

  • When differences of opinion arise, share “here is where I am coming from, can you share your reasoning?”
  • Avoid using idioms, try to use direct English instead (don’t refer to a “wild goose chase,” some may wonder where the geese are)
  • “Complacency is the end of innovation” – don’t stop stretching personally
  • The next time I encounter a perspective that is different from my own, I will step back and say “that’s fascinating; tell me more about how you go to that point of view.” Hopefully this will help me to reserve judgment and be open to a gem of an idea.

    What tips do you have to effectively interact and collaborate with someone who is different than you?

    Contributed by: Angela A-S., Sr OD Consultant