CHAPTER 2How to Break the Ice, Show Respect, and Build Trust with People Not Like You

It's easier to work with people we relate to and understand. Dealing with people not like us can feel like friction. It's harder.

But if you work with people who are just like you, you'll tend to get the same perspectives on issues and that affects innovation and problem solving. There was a study done with fraternity and sorority members that revealed this in a fascinating way. Fraternity and sorority membership conveys a powerful group identity and can create a strong sense of similarity with other members of the group. In the study, teams of three fraternity or sorority members were asked to solve a murder mystery. They were given clues and had 20 minutes to solve the mystery and name the suspect. However, five minutes into their group discussion, they were joined by a fourth team member, someone who was either from their own fraternity or sorority, or a different one.

When the fourth person who joined was an outsider, the teams solved the murder mystery more quickly and accurately than the teams where everyone was from the same fraternity or sorority. In fact, adding an outsider more than doubled their chances of getting the correct answer, from 29 to 60 percent. This is just one example, but there have been hundreds of studies done on the effects of diversity and diverse perspectives at work and they all come to the same conclusion: diverse teams yield better outcomes.

There is another aspect ...

Get How to Work With and Lead People Not Like You now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.