Home / Blog / Why working with differences is worth it

Why working with differences is worth it

By Abigail Handley, 03 Dec 2021

One of the key principles of the work I focus on in Outlandish and with the clients I work with is building trust between us. Part of this work is to practice and build confidence within our teams to notice and talk about our differences. Those might be the obvious physical ones (gender, race, weight), differences in experience, or age or abilities as well as differences in values, ideals, political stances – anything to be honest!

But why do I think discovering differences between people is valuable work for teams? Why not just connect on similarities for example?

  • None of us can know the whole truth, we all have our own set of assumptions, perspectives and values that no matter how similar you might seem to someone, there will be differences, finding out more of the ‘truth’ or other people’s truth is interesting, fulfilling and leads to more understanding of each other, more connection… and more trust between each other
  • Being able to integrate/combine different perspectives on the same problem/challenge/talk allows for more innovation and a chance of solving/delivering even better, different people will think about a problem in different ways and therefore offer different solutions
  • Joining on what you are the same as is normal and easy, it’s also exclusive – all the women, all the white people… That’s great for those ‘in’ but what about those who are not, who are out? No team is homogenous and has all the same attributes… So if you only join on what is the same, others will feel excluded and separate. Welcoming difference creates more inclusive teams
  • Practising understanding differences without judging which perspective is better or worse empowers me (personally) to be freer and more open and honest on what my perspective is – and I now welcome suggestions to improve/develop my perspective or suggestion that I am making.
  • Being ok with accepting differences reduces my anxiety about having to be right before I share anything

 

So how might you do it?

If you want to explore how you might start to welcome more difference yourself, and within your teams take a little look at how we try and communicate at Outlandish (and how we try and support teams to build openness, understanding and trust as part of the Building OUT services).

Particularly:

Next Reframing Conflict workshop coming up in Feb

How we communicate at Outlandish

A guide to the FONT framework

What is Building OUT?