Episode 72: Divisiveness at work


October 12th, 2021

25 mins 37 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

This week we talk about divisiveness at work. Divisive opinions at work are an example of divisiveness in the world ... people seem to be on one side or the other of so many issues, and we can’t remember a time when people have been so polarized.

We love the saying “Let’s agree to disagree." -- thank you David Campt for going deeper on that with us in Episode 52 -- and we try to use it whenever possible.

By diviseness, we’re talking about when there are different camps who don’t come together - or people who like to make work political. We agree that good leaders help build alignment and cohesiveness. Building respect around the mission -- and a leader who demands respectful interaction -- helps to bring people together to work towards common goals.

Taking a time out can also work. When you’re feeling emotional, take a time out and find a time to talk it through at another time.

Some roles that these dividers can take at work:

The Whisperer. You know them: the person who goes cube to cube whispering (but they don't go to SOME people’s cubes) or is calling ⅔ of the team members. This person who promotes exclusivity and in- vs out-groups. This person might recommend you say something in a meeting, but when you stick your neck out, they don’t back you up.

The Exhausted person. When we’re fried, we’re not as resilient, and we’re not our best selves ... so sometimes stress and lack of resilience brings out bad behavior.

The Bully. They need boundaries or they will run over everyone, so you need to push back or they’ll get out of control.

Shout out to Sarah Noll Wilson in Episode 26 and her call to leadership to go deeper and see their people as HUMANS and to teammates who acknowledge stress and offer to help/cover and work together to take a minute.

If your team is divided, you can talk with your leadership privately to tell them what you’re seeing and ask for help in bringing people together.

How do you work with a divisive person? Try to talk 1:1, document divisive behavior, try to align with everyone in the group in hopes that others won’t exclude you. Raise your hand to show that you’re capable and want to work with others.

Humor is a great way to diffuse a tough work situation. Making people laugh can really bring stress levels down.

When nothing is working, talk with your boss and ask for suggestions of how we can work together.

Sometimes things get heated, and it’s ok to take some time off and come back when you’re calm. Write the emotional email as a journal entry, and then write another that’s kind, compassionate, and helpful with the goal towards working together.