The Unfortunate Cycle of Us vs. Them

“I’m right. I’m mean, really, really right. All the social sites I visit confirm I’m right. The people in my social circle agree that I’m right. The websites I visit have the same opinion. The news channels I watch also agree that I’m right.  So, if everyone around me agrees that I’m right, it must be true. Right?”

Wrong.

Let’s be honest. Most of our social circles are more segregated than integrated. The folks in our personal circles typically look and think like us. We’re often surrounded by likeminded people with similar opinions. That is until we go to work.

Businesses are typically more diverse than our homes and neighborhoods. These integrated workplaces provide an environment in which we’re required to interact with people different from ourselves. As a result, we build social and collaboration skills with diverse groups of people we otherwise wouldn’t develop.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, social isolation has distanced us from meaningful interactions with diverse groups of people. And we’re out of practice.

We’re deeper in echo chambers than ever before. Social isolation has surrounded us with people who echo our own opinions back to us, resulting in firm convictions that we are right. Anyone who disagrees with us must be extremely wrong. This mentality often misleads us into believing “they’re either with me or against me.”

We’re in a perfect storm, and the conditions are ideal for even more division.

So, what happens when the pandemic is over? What happens when things normalize, and we have to work alongside people who vote, think, and look different than us? How do we collaborate with people we now see as “them” and not “us”?

The “Us vs. Them” mentality is an unfortunate cycle that carries negative consequences for all.

Workplace leaders have a unique opportunity to bridge the divide between diverse groups of people.

Organizations can’t thrive without leaders who know how to rebuild healthy collaboration and transform conflicting ideas into innovative outcomes. 

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