What Difference do Differences Make?

You have worked side-by-side with your team for quite some time and the good news is that it has been truly enjoyable. You get along, you work hard together and you laugh hard together. Lucky you, this might even be an example of a high performing team. You assumed it was because you had so much in common.

Then one day the inevitable occurred. The conversation turned toward religion or politics or some other high stakes topic. You were not too concerned. After all, you get along so well and this must be because you are all so alike. Discussing potentially sensitive topics should be no big deal. WRONG!

Imagine your shock and surprise when you find out that you are the only person on your team who votes (you can fill-in-the-blank here) or that not everyone believes in (you can fill-in-the-blank here too). How can this be? How can these people that you get along with so well be so different?

It is not uncommon for people to assume that the people they are surrounded with are like them and share the same belief systems. Especially when you get along so well. The problem with this assumption is that it can lead to some embarrassing moments. You know the situations where you make a joke or a comment at the expense of a certain political candidate or religious group only to learn that your audience voted for that candidate or belongs to that religious group? There is an obvious lesson here which is, don’t make nasty comments about other people and their beliefs. But the more interesting lesson is about YOU and how you behave once you find out your team members are not exactly like you.

Unfortunately for some people once the differences surface there is no turning back. The relationship is forever altered. That is too bad. None of you have changed. Remember when you were working together on that high pressure project and you all shared some good laughs. You were the same people you are right now. That means you shared a laugh with someone who votes differently than you do and who worships differently than you do. Is that so wrong?

How you treat someone who doesn’t share your belief system says quite a bit about you. Don’t let the differences make a difference.