Response to Differences Scale
To learn a new model of how to bridge differences (the four-phase model)
To better understand how one’s approach to differences affects interactions with others
To experience first-hand the power of dialogue and the importance of creating explicit
group processes that enable all group members to contribute to accomplishing a task
Groups of 3 to 5 people
Approximately 75 minutes
Flipcharts or writing paper, as needed
Copies of Handout 1, “Self-Reflection,” and Handout 2, “Dealing with Differences,” for
each participant
Overhead or flipchart to show the model
1. Give each participant a copy of the “Self-Reflection” handout.
2. Ask participants to think of a time when they were working on a team and had to work
with someone different from them, such as a person with a very different work style or
differing opinions.
3. Ask them to think about how they reacted to that difference and to mark this on the scale
on the handout. Give them several minutes to do their individual ratings. Stress that there
are no right or wrong answers: the purpose of this exercise is to enter into a dialogue with
fellow team members to learn about one another.
Note: Trainers may define the terms with participants. Alternatively, how the participants
define the terms can be part of the dialogue process that follows (about 10 minutes).
4. Introduce the 4-phase model (identifying similarities and differences, validating or affirm-
ing team members, understanding one another, and utilizing team resources) either by
presenting or discussing the model. Give each person a copy of the “Dealing with Differ-
ences” handout when you are done (about 10 minutes).
5. Arrange participants in small groups of three to five each and assign each group a task that
is fairly easy to carry out and with which they are familiar, such as designing a “Cele-
brating Differences” day for their community (about 5 minutes).
6. Ask the small groups to discuss their approaches to difference. They don’t need to cover
all ratings on the scale—just the ones that are most important to them. They should use
this four-phase model:
First, they should identify the similarities and differences in how group members
approach difference.
Second, they should affirm the advantages of each approach and discuss its downsides.
Third, they should apply their styles to the task, discussing how each style will contrib-
ute to task accomplishment.
Finally, they should discuss how to use the strengths of each group member and how
they might help each group member develop new skills and styles. For this last phase,
team members can create ground rules or discussion guidelines for their group (about
30 minutes).
Ask participants what methods they used to identify, validate, and understand. On a flipchart,
record their methods for making the most of team differences (about 20 minutes).
Dealing with Differences
A Four-Phase Cycle for Accomplishing Tasks
My Response to Differences
Think of a time when you were working on a team and had to work with a person different from
you. How did you react to that difference? Circle your reactions below.
Pause and reflect Respond quickly
Emphasize commonality Acknowledge uniqueness
Explore and clarify Assume understanding
Describe Evaluate
Act separately Cooperate
Persuade Listen
Choose “either–or” Adjust or create “in between”
Rational Emotional

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