CHAPTER 8Dealing with Conflict and Prejudice and Having Hard Conversations about Differences

When you're working with a diverse group of people, if it feels like the whole process is harder, you're not crazy. It is harder. Working with people who are not like you requires more effort. The extra effort feels like it's slowing progress or bogging down productivity. Or it feels like there is tension within the group. There may be real differences between your team members and, sometimes, those differences erupt into conflict. As a leader, how do you deal with conflict, prejudice and real differences between people on your team? How do you drive the best outcome and make your team achieve better results in spite of their differences?


From the time we are little kids, we're conditioned to play nicely with others. We are told that when someone wants to fight with us, we should walk away—or give in. We are schooled on how to get along with other kids and what not to do. In business, however, you can't just walk away or “give in” whenever you're faced with a difficult situation. You have no choice but to deal with it. The best leaders deal with tough issues head‐on. They don't dance around the problem or wait for it to resolve itself or go away. They talk about it. They get the issues on the table and discuss it, no matter how uncomfortable it is. The process can feel awkward, because it's not how we are socialized and brought up, but it's necessary. ...

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