How Can We Better Manage Employees With Differing Political And Social Views

Full Transcript Below

[ANNOUNCER]: Breaking down everyday workplace issues and diagnosing the hidden sickness, not just the obvious symptom. Our hosts, James and Coby.

[COBY]: Did we lose a patient?

[JAMES]: No, that’s just my lunch.

[COBY]: Hey, thanks for joining us. I’m Coby. He’s James. So let’s get started with a question. How can we better manage employees with differing political and social views?

[JAMES]: This is an interesting question. It’s not going to be an easy one to answer. And it, there’s a lot of complexity to this question.

[COBY]: Actually, and this question can give a little bit of context to where it came from. Actually, it was a question that kind of came to us as kind of a request for kind of a discussion from, from our YouTube channel and it came to us kind of in this form. It was; why is the de I community not talking about how progressives in the workplace can better embrace their conservative peers? That was kind of the kind of where they were, what they were looking…

[JAMES]: I see where they’re, I mean, it’s a good question. I, I see where they’re coming from with that. I don’t think we want to reduce it just to one side or look at it from one angle. I’m of two minds on this, on my response to this. My answer is going to be even more of a nonanswer than usual. So I apologize. But really, I think my, the two perspectives that I’m looking at this question from are from an HR risk mitigation factor, right? As HR professionals, it is our responsibility to try to reduce or mitigate the risks to the organization that is a just a core part of what HR does, right? So for many companies, the way that they would approach, this is the easiest way to mitigate that risk is to say, don’t talk about it, right? Which I don’t think is necessarily a bad approach because it accomplishes. I don’t think it’s the best approach, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a terrible one because I don’t think that I think there’s a lot of opportunities for any earnestly strongly held belief that comes up against another earnestly, strongly held core belief, there’s going to be conflict from that. However, the other side of me takes them looking at it from more of a leadership perspective. I want my, my team is going to be a highly functioning team that is my role as a leader is to empower my team members, my role, my job as a leader is to ensure that everybody can bring their whole self to work and it will be respected for that. And I think one of the big mistakes or the, one of my biggest areas of frustration is our, as a society, our complete inability to separate an opinion from a person. And to… we can’t, we have difficulty accepting that we disagree with somebody, but we can still respect that individual.

[COBY]: Yeah. No, no. And I, I think that those are two important perspectives to bring to this discussion because the way I more look at it is I kind of look at it from more of a broader, higher, like a top, more top down like 30,000 ft view from almost like a academic, you know, cognitive science perspective. Because I mean, like, because again, more of like a human behavior and how, you know, we can use kind of like, you know, some, some of the psychology behind why we have the, why this creates such turmoil and what we should be doing almost like cognitively to almost help, help us better engage with those we work with. But also how do we kind of demystify some of the biases? And some of the, again, some of the like, like almost like, you know, incendiary components to it that, that makes, that makes it all, it’s all explode into, into, into these really, you know, horribly conflict involved situations because the reality of it is at this topic. I mean, differing, political, social views, different people, different perspectives is very complex. It’s not complicated, it’s complex. And, and the, distinction that we make is that complexity is something that is multifaceted but cannot be replicated over and over again. You know, if we, if we give like a piece of advice today on this topic, that piece of advice will not work for everybody and that piece of advice will not work in all situations. So it’s something that we have to understand…

[JAMES]: And the situation may change tomorrow or a month from now that renders our advice moot, right? Like complexity is it’s complex, imagine that.

[COBY]: Where it’s complicated is something where it’s still multifaceted, but you can almost rely on the consistency of it. What works today will work tomorrow, what works for one will work for the other. And that’s not gonna be the type of information that we can provide, we have that we can only provide complexity because people are complex. And I think we have to acknowledge, first of all that a human being is complex with multi sides and we have to and, and that’s gonna need to be a fundamental core concept that we have to keep in mind as we explore this ability to manage people with different political and social views both from ourselves and from each other.

[JAMES]: Well, if we reduce people to an individual aspect of their personality or to an independent individual opinion, then we will never have a productive conversation. If you enter this discussion saying that or if you try to manage this type of discussion, but you’re only focused on this one aspect of a person of what makes up a person. I think you’re fighting a losing in a professional manner. We would still have to put a bit of a fence around. Ok. What are we actually, what is the goal? What are we trying to get to? We’re trying to get to a place where people can actually get back to being productive, right? Because honestly, we’re, we’re at work to do our, our jobs, right? We’re not at work to engage unless you’re in politics, then you’re on your own and good luck. but we are in the workplace to perform a role, to accomplish certain things. And if the, if we are bringing in problems or bringing in opinions that, are intentionally brought in to cause conflict, to, hinder that objective that we are supposed to be working towards, that needs to be addressed, that needs to be addressed by the manager that may need to be addressed in a couple of different formats. It could end up being a performance management issue. But either way, I think it’s wise to approach this from a common ground of where are we trying to get to. And then once we can agree on a common ground, then we can deconstruct the path to get there.

[COBY]:No. And that’s actually, I think that is very wise because again, you’re right, like, you know, the idea is, is that we, and I think, I think the key to a lot of this is as well as talking about, you know, complexity is gonna be kind of the name of the game. But also realizing that a lot mining towards a common goal is probably gonna be the other side of it too, right? That I mean, you know, we’re at, we’re at work to do our jobs. Where are our jobs are about us providing the best possible work that we can with the time and tools that we have. That’s really kind of the expectations that we have to keep in mind throughout this whole conversation and through many conversations is that’s kind of the alignment that we have to be aware of. So I think it’s good, it’d be good for us to kind of again if, if we look at this from the different angles that you and I are personally viewing at it, but also can be those two things in mind. And hopefully, we can provide some clarity around this very complicated topic or in complex topic. I think one thing that I would say I would do from a functional standpoint of where of where to start is I think you want to consider the work environment that people are in, in general, right? Because I mean, like we talk about this, we talk about the workplace culture hierarchy, the bottom stage of the hierarchy. We call it Compliance, which is about complying with legal standards, but also complying with employee expectations. Because when we don’t comply with employee expectations, it creates job dissatisfaction and job dissatisfaction. What that looks like is people are, you know, unhappy. People are, you know, almost like feeling that they’re taking advantage of or other people have it better than they do or someone’s being treated well and I’m not being treated well, you know, and this is often the type of environment that we have when we don’t put the effort to make our workplaces Competitive, Sufficient and Equitable. It’s, you know, because we want to make sure our workplaces have it as good as other workplaces. We want to make sure our workplaces are providing people what they need and make sure our workplaces are giving people kind of a sense of fairness and, and, and equity. And if we have this, if, if we don’t even realize that the environment that we’re in, that might naturally cause conflict over less incendiary issues than political and social views. If we already have conflict based on little things, like, why is that person gonna leave early or how come they can take 20 minutes for a break? But I can only take 15 if we’re having those problems, if those, everything else is gonna be so much more complicated and that, that’s like smoking in a pool of gasoline, you know what I mean?

[JAMES]: Well, I mean, it, it’s not just so, I actually had a situation like that years ago in a preview, role where I, my job was to be in and out and I, I spent most of my time on the road. you know, I was in the office a fair amount but I would be, I would leave any time of the day and just get up out of my office and walk out the door and wave to people as I go by it actually caused conflict with one person who would constantly ask me where I’m going. Where are you going? Now, what are you doing? I didn’t report to them. So I, being younger and just as obnoxious as I am now, would make some smart alec, response of whatever. I’m, oh, I’m taken off for the day, or just kind of ignore it. But the problem was that didn’t actually accomplish anything beneficial. There was conflict between myself and this person because, and a we actually ended up discussing this, between the two of us and working things out and we actually have a good relationship now. But it was more about this individual was not given the same freedoms in their role that they saw this new kid who’s young and kind of a jackass, taking liberties, right? And this, the sense of inequality between the two positions is largely what caused the initially caused the conflict. And then it was my poor attitude that accelerated.

[COBY]: At least you admit it.

[JAMES]: Well, I mean, I’m, I’m self aware enough to know that I am just an at fault.

[COBY]:But, yeah, and, again, this is like when these types of people feel that there’s inequity, people feel that someone is being treated better than them, you know, and again, these smaller things are not as, again complex as differing political and social views. If these problems are festering in the workplace due to job dissatisfaction, then you’re not ready to worry about managing employee to different political or social views. You have to deal with job dissatisfaction first. And we do have actually have a podcast episode from last season where we actually talk about how dangerous job dissatisfaction is. And that will be a really good one for someone to peruse before you really kind of start to, to dig into some of the issues we’re gonna talk about, talk about in this episode because again, that’s gonna be a problem you’re gonna have to address first because that’s what I mean by, you know, realizing the environment that you’re in, if you’re in an environment that, that has job satisfaction, you might not be ready for, you know, for the differing political and social views. But if you don’t, then, you know, you should at least kind of know that. So at least, you know, what kind of environment you’re currently working in when you try to address these differing political or social views.

[JAMES]: And I think I might be forming the beginning of an answer to this question. Yeah, or at least from a couple different perspectives again. I think if you are, so the question that the person posed to us was about how can they, I’m assuming how can they, or how can other progressives reach out and, you know, build that relationship or you know, start to address, people with different, how do you work with people with vastly very, very different, strongly held core, values and beliefs. And I think the absolute first thing that you need to do is recognize that people are more than one opinion, even a very vocal, strongly held opinion. There is more to that person than that one thing than that one aspect. We as people are never just one thing. You cannot call somebody just a conservative, just a liberal, just a like people are not just anything except they’re just messy and complicated, you know. Right. Like OK, I’m gonna, but no, you can’t really, you cannot reduce people to a single opinion. And if you do that, you’ve already lost this battle. If you are earnestly trying to find a way to bridge a divide, then you have to start from common ground. And if you can’t even respect another human being enough to look for the common ground, you will never be able to accomplish this reconciliation or bridge building.

[COBY]:Yeah. No, I think you’re right because one thing that like, you know, again, I’m looking at this from, again that more of that cognitive academic perspective. But when, but when we do what you just said about boiling people down to a single opinion or a single view sort of thing that, that is almost like a defense mechanism that we don’t like our brains don’t like how complex and messy a person is. So what we, what tends to happen is we tend to fall into what’s called the Simplicity Bias. And this is a cognitive bias towards holding views that can be explained by a simple narrative. So this person is, you know, loud and aggressively pro-hunting animals and I, you know, believe in animal rights. I’m, I’m vegan, maybe we say for example. And so I do so that person is bad. I don’t like that person that’s who they are. They are a hunter. I don’t like them. So that’s so that, so I’m and simply, I’m gonna label them that way. They’re bad. They’re two dimensional to just that one thing that tends to be the bias that our brains look for because you want to categorize people good, bad.
because it allows us to, to just have a more simpler view of the world. But the problem is that bias is what is causing this ability for us to just label people in as a, define them by a single opinion or a single view or a single, you know, aspect of their personality instead of accepting. Nope, this is a messy, complicated person with, that’s three dimensional, has lots of different sides to them, that it is easier to label them, and either accept them or label them and dismiss them and move on. But I have to accept the fact that they’re complex and that, and that they do have things that we align on and I need to put the effort into finding it and value those places. But also accept that there are parts that we don’t agree on and we may never agree on. And, and that’s ok.

[JAMES]: I’m glad that you’re bringing the cognitive science into the conversation as well because it’s important not to just focus on the emotional response because that could be an air and, and an avenue to go down. It’s interesting that you use, like, let’s move away from, the, maybe the, the political or social and talk about, like your example of, you know, somebody who is, has a strongly held belief in, in animal rights and is a vegan and somebody who has a strongly held belief in, as a, sport hunter or, you know, there’s, there are benefits on both sides, right? Both viewpoints have legitimate, benefits. There’s on the, on the hunter side like conservation. you know, there’s, self sufficiency, there is very, a lot of traditional, a lot of traditions and traditional, aspects to that, hunting lifestyle and it, there’s a lot of value in that. There is not, it’s not inherently wrong, just like on the other side of the conversation, somebody who has strongly held beliefs is as a vegan who believes in, you know, animal rights and, you know, opposes animal cruelty, they, those are not inherently wrong or inherently bad either. Right. I think the problem becomes when we try to, well, as we said, either we try to reduce somebody down to one aspect or there’s one overpowering, element of a person’s, personality that shines through. Right? If you are on either side of that, if you are the person who is a, vegan with strongly held beliefs and you spend every lunch hour railing against anybody who brings a sandwich with meat in it. That’s not good. That’s not productive. That’s creating a toxic environment. And that’s baiting people. Right? That’s not respecting other people’s beliefs.
I mean, on either side of this, your strongly held beliefs are important and they are valuable. Other people’s strongly held beliefs are important and they are valuable. And I think one thing that we have forgotten is that in terms of what are my rights, in terms of my beliefs, in terms of my opinions, my rights end exactly where somebody else’s rights begin.
That includes opinions that I disagree with. I can engage in hopefully a productive and cordial conversation with somebody on differences of opinion. That’s fine, that’s healthy. That type of discourse is actually a really good thing. I don’t have the right then to turn around and, or to yell at that person or to get angry at that person for not agreeing with me or to belittle that person, right? That is a violation of their rights to have a safe work environment. So I think we need to talk a little bit about rights because this whole concept that, you know, I have the right to free speech to say whatever I want, you have the right to say what you want, you don’t have the right to be free from the consequences of saying whatever you want.

[COBY]: And I think that the digging into the sides of rights like that can also be a bit of a polarizing issue for some reason. But all of this seems, yeah, exactly. But I think though even moving almost like a bit to the side of that, nobody likes a zealot, somebody who has strong views and feels they have to convert others toward their views or uses their views as their as the dominant part of their engagement with others. And I think that that’s just something that we kind of have to accept. No one likes the, the person that pushes their eating habits. No one likes to pushes their favorite sports team. No one likes that pushes their, you know, their religion on other people. Nobody likes that. Nobody, nobody likes it. Yeah. And that, and that’s just kind of the reality of, you know, if, if you have a, if you have a view that’s a dominant part of your personality.

[JAMES]: No one likes a zealot. Yeah, I think there’s a clarification because you can have a viewpoint. That’s a dominant part of your personality. But the, what takes it to the difference between a, you know, a core fundamental belief of who I am, whether you’re talking like religion is a good example. Right? I am a Christian. that is the, my world view and that informs a lot of my, viewpoints and opinions, but it’s not the only thing that I am while my worldview informs many of my opinions, my viewpoints, my values, I still have to respect that other people have different viewpoints.

[COBY]:If you have a strongly held view, that’s great if you have. But if someone disagrees with a strongly held view that shouldn’t damage you.

[JAMES]: Well, no, I mean, you, you shouldn’t be so insecure in your strongly held opinion that you can’t take any form of criticism.

[COBY]:Well, and that’s just, and kind of getting back to this whole idea of addressing how do you differ? You know, how do you manage your employees of different political social views is that, you know, you need to kind of accept that you can feel and believe the things that you want to, others can too and that we can accept that we don’t all have to have the same views and opinions and thoughts in order to work together.
That’s just kind of one of the fundamental components to it because I mean, and going back to what I was saying before, about the environment that you’re working in, like, you know, the whole idea of job dissatisfaction, you know, when you have this, when, when inequity and conflict are just come the every day because of job dissatisfaction, then everything becomes, like I say, you’re smoking in a, in a pool of gasoline, right? Everything becomes, you know, could let a fire at any moment. So you have to, so those kinds of those kind of problems have to be addressed further before you even dig into things that are, that are this, you know, political, let say in our quotes. But one thing that we have to realize too is that kind of one of the fundamental problems that the job of satisfaction conflicts kind of create, that’s also similar to this.
If I you know, if, if I have an opinion and you have a different opinion, then that’s a problem is because we often think about this stuff as zero sum, right? If there’s, when there’s conflicts, if your value view, political perspective is supported, then that must mean that mine loses out that if you’re plus one and minus one, that’s kind of, that’s how we get to zero. And I think that that underlying thought or assumption is one is what fuels a lot of this because if we, if we think that our workplaces or even just in our, in our interactions in general, there’s always zero sum that if, you know, you’re a, you know, if you’re, if, if you’re a hunter and I’m a vegan and someone says the hunting, the, the co is ok, then you must be saying that my views are wrong. That is the zero sum thinking that I think that is the assumption that tends to be that fuel a lot of this. So I think that going back to addressing the the environment that has to be stamped out if we want to move forward and actually starting to manage people effectively with different political and social views, you’re right.

[JAMES]: It 100% starts with removing the simple areas of conflict that are going to boil over into every other conversation. So starting with a firm grasp of compliance, of making sure that the factors of your workplace are competitive, sufficient and equitable is kind of the bare minimum that you have really should have in place before you even think about addressing this, anything more contentious in the workplace. Because if you don’t have that, you’re just asking for a whole host of problems. I think it’s important though that it needs to go beyond compliance as well because if we’re looking at the, if we’re using the hierarchy as our model, then we need to, people need to feel safe, they need to feel psychologically safe, not they need to feel physically safe. As well. Like, let’s make sure that is, obvious and apparent, but they need to feel safe that they can share an opinion that’s different from anybody else’s opinion and they’re not going to be reprimanded or they’re not going to be, there won’t be Reprisal for sharing a different opinion.

[COBY]:Absolutely. And I mean, this is why I say it’s so important to remove that zero-sum thinking because it’s really hard to have psychological safety with zero-sum thinking because I mean, even when it comes to kind of like, you know, sharing a good idea, right? If you have a good idea, that must mean that my ideas were bad. And that’s one of the like conflicts that kind of comes up with psychological safety.
Why, why we often don’t have it is because I feel threatened by someone else’s good idea. So, you’re right though that we have to be, make sure that we can create the psychological, safe workplace. And one of the ways we do that is by removing the zero-sum of thinking, kind of assumptions, but you’re 100% right? It’s important for people to realize that they need to become kind of comfortable with being vulnerable and being able to kind of share thoughts, hear different perspectives and be OK with that because one of the aspects that we talk about with psychological safety and we do have a one of our really early podcasts was about this topic was about psychological safety. We need to support constructive discourse, be able to have a conversation with opposing sides respectfully. Because the one thing I don’t like about the answer of well ban topics from the workplace, say no religion talks, no political talks. I do get why that is, you know, inherent and needed in some in workplaces as, as kind of a plan or, or kind of a sweeping plan. The problem is that doesn’t actually do anything because my say, my political view will inform my kind of perspectives on work, my, my perspectives on dealing with other people. So you can’t really get away from it because I guess I won’t talk about my thoughts on, I don’t know the death penalty randomly do during a business meeting,
but my opinion about the reverence of life may affect how we talk about kind of the risks that might be associated with the project that we’re doing, right. So, I mean, so it gonna be informed by it. So it’s important to be able to kind of have a respectful conversation. Discourse is a word that we like to use and be able to kind of have that professional, you know, debate about opposing sides in a, in a way that will be constructive to achieve a goal, not just arguing for arguing sake, but towards a common ground or towards a common or at least an agreed upon outcome.

[JAMES]: And you can only have discourse if you actually see the other side as a human being. If you see them as you have to see them as more than just one thing, more than just the opinion that you disagree with, regardless of how hard that opinion strikes against one of your, for, strongly held beliefs or opinions. You need to look beyond what you disagree on and look for an area of common ground. If you, if that’s not present you, it’s really hard to engage in open and honest conversation or discourse if all you’re looking for is an opportunity to attack an opinion.

[COBY]:Yeah, you’re right. And I think that, that, that having discourse in the workplace needs to be modeled by leadership.

[JAMES]: 100%.

[COBY]:Managers have to be the one that can, you know, show what it’s like to have a, to respectfully handle disagreements, different opinions. Because again, a lot of, a lot of work workplace problems are complex and there is no clear one right answer. It’s often about finding the least worst option or finding the, or finding common ground and the most kind of agree or the most, you know, agreeable to the terms option, right? It’s never about, you know, that one clear piece because again, we often want that simplicity bias to say, yeah, there’s just one perfect answer and we just do that. But, that’s ignoring the complexity of the reality of it. And, and one way that I think that you could really start to, show the and model professional discourse in the workplace is, is taking a piece of our Integrity Leadership framework, which is Honest Acknowledgement, right? Different ideas can be respected and their value can be understood. But you don’t always have to agree. Sometimes it’s about taking a mission to find a consensus or middle ground over just trying to win. And we talked about Integrity Leadership in some recent episodes about management and even our last Q & A from last season. So if you want to learn more about Honest Acknowledgement, you know, you can trick that up. But I think that that Honest Acknowledgement piece from, from, from integrity leadership is gonna be how you model that to your employees.

[JAMES]: Yeah, that’s a, that’s a good point about Honest Acknowledgment because that opens up. It really, it just opens up so many more opportunities for finding a good resolution or at least a path forward that is not rife with conflict. And really it’s the precursor to inclusion. right, this is inclusion is what we want. It is what we are moving towards and what all of our companies should be moving towards is a place where our environments allow people to feel like they belong for who they are so that they can give us their best work. Like it is, it’s a bit selfish as a company. You want inclusion selfishly because that’s how you’re gonna get the best out of people. That’s how you’re going to find the best talent and that’s how you’re going to get the best results from great people. We also like, yes, there is a moral imperative piece to it, but we’re never going to change business opinions with a moral imperative.
We’re going to change business opinions and processes by showing this is what’s right for the companies and this is how we’re going to achieve XY and Z better, faster, cheaper, whatever that OC needs to be. And it’s important to understand that when we’re talking about inclusion, we’re not just talking about it from an DEI perspective. Inclusion is not only part of the DEI conversation inclusion is about making sure that everyone feels that they can be their bring their authentic self to work. There’s still professional bounds that need to be professional standards that need to be met within all of that. There’s still policies and regulations that we need to adhere to. But we want to allow people to bring who they are because diversity of perspective is a incredible value add to an organization, the innovation that can come from it, the new ideas that can come from it. The just we’ve talked about discourse. How will you ever, find new and innovative ways of doing things if you can’t even have a conversation with your coworkers in a respectful manner.

[COBY]:Yeah. And I think that I, and it’s funny because I, I think that the inclusion really is, you’re right. This is kind of where we want to get to. We want to better manage employees with differing political and social views. Inclusion really is the, the short answer we talked about a long way to get there. But it is kind of a short answer that we’re looking for.
And it’s, it’s important to look at it both kind of like both the through the DEI lens, but also from the none DEI lens. Because again, the original question that we got that sparked this conversation was about how can DEI professionals allow progressives to be more to get to kind of embrace more of their the conservative kind of coworkers. It’s important to realize that yes, inclusion has a vital role in like providing, you know, and, and managing kind of the dynamics of, of a workplace with different people with different racial backgrounds, religious backgrounds, you know, accessibility backgrounds, those are, that is an important use of inclusion. But it is by far, not the only type of populations that we need to talk about, they need to be accepted and like they belong. Like the one thing that I kind of get a bit annoyed at and, and then this happens, sometimes we’re talking to different companies because, like, you know, DEI is a bit of a polarizing topic in some places too. Right. but I mean, it is. Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, people talk about, you know, about, about DEI as being, you know, they think of it from the normal, like, you know, racial, religious and accessibility is kind of and, and LGBTQ is kind of what, where de I kind of lives and about helping just those populations. And it, and again, inclusion is a big part of that. But when we talk about inclusion as being only that, to me, that’s like talking about engineering is only about creating accessible ramps and accessible elevators and doors. That’s all engineering is for, is just that like you’re totally missing the whole versatility of, of this whole concept because I mean, differing social views, different political views, I mean, even just the idea of people who, you know, again, like the whole vegan and hunters and you know, all the ideas around the different backgrounds, age groups, right? Like, I mean, the difference between like, you know, a millennial workforce and a baby boomer workforce, they’re so we are so complex as individuals that creating an environment where people feel accepted and that they belong for who they are, regardless of what makes them who they are is what inclusion is about, yes, certain populations need are, are, are, are important part of this conversation, but they’re not the only part.

[JAMES]: And the way that we approach inclusion is from, it’s not about certain populations belonging, it’s about everyone belonging and not just, you know, someone with these different populations are going to require different things.

[COBY]: Yes, but it’s also not about, you know, someone who’s, you know, has a disability should belong because of their disability. They should belong for, they have a disability if they, you know, if for their, you know, if they have eat eating habits, if they,

[JAMES]: For their wacky sense of humor.

[COBY]: And for their, like, if they cheer on who they are not for just one

[JAMES]:Yeah. Right. Like, again,

[COBY]: The whole person.

[JAMES]: People are not one thing and if we look at people as merely one thing, we have already lost this conversation.

[COBY]:Yeah, absolutely. So I think that is, is, is gonna say that we really need to, to understand that that’s where we wanna go. We wanna create inclusion, but inclusion is about letting people be accepted and that they belong for all the different weird aspects of their three dimensional personality and background and then allowing them to give us their best work. That’s the point right there. So we have to understand that, that it’s about making sure the environment isn’t, isn’t fueling you know, problems and conflict. We have to remove the zero-sum thinking, we have to move towards psychological safety. That’s, that is, me, mentored and modeled by managers that show honest acknowledgment of differing ideas and opinions to create an inclusive environment where people are accepted for their whole person, all their weird little aspects that, you know, maybe I don’t agree with them all. But I find the one, the areas that align, like we have a similar work ethic, we have a similar, you know, we’re both tired in the morning, you know, and, and we’re, and we’re usually like, sort of thing. those are things that we can, we can find agreement on, but then the stuff that we find different or that we’re never gonna agree on, I can accept that you feel one way. I feel another way, but that doesn’t impact how we work together. That’s really the path we have to go on.

[JAMES]: I think it’s also important to acknowledge. You don’t have to like everybody. Like, there’s just honestly, sometimes you just don’t like some of the people that you work with. I don’t think it’s realistic for companies, for managers to expect that everybody is gonna be buddy, buddy all the time. There are some people that you just find annoying, that’s fine. You’re allowed to do that, but you’re not allowed to infringe on that person’s psychological safety, physical safety, just as they are not allowed to infringe on yours. There are workarounds, but it requires us to take a take a broader view of the individual that we are working with. And not as you’ve said, many times, not get into the zero-sum thinking and not reduce people down to a single aspect of their personality.
It really, it boils down again to something we all learned or should have learned in primary, right. Treat other people the same way that you expect and would like to be treated if you treat people like garbage, you can probably expect that you are gonna be treated like garbage back. If you would like to be treated with respect and integrity, you have a responsibility to treat others with respect and integrity.

[COBY]:Part two is you teach people how to treat you.

[JAMES]: 100%. Yes.

[COBY]: So, I mean, you know, if, if you’re always, if you’re always identifying the differences, if you’re always baiting, if you’re always trying to, you know, true to reduce people down to a single element that you disagree with, they’re gonna do it back to you. You know, it’s, and you, you teach people how to treat you. So these are all again and it’s kind of sad that I think maybe the best advice we’re giving away or things that we learned in elementary school. But, these are kind of kind of fundamental truths. But I mean, I hope that by talking about again, the breakdown of the stages to get to inclusion. I hope that something of value has come from this conversation for people.

[JAMES]: Yeah, I think the last thing that I wanna say is I want to acknowledge that if you this is not going to be easy, it’s not going to be quick and honestly, a lot of the time it’s not gonna be fun. It is important though, we need to get back to a place where we can have informed conversations on topics that we disagree on. That is healthy. It is healthy for us as a society, it is healthy for us as a business, it is healthy as for us as managers to have our team be able to engage in and come to some sort of resolution. If there’s so much that we can accomplish together, we are better together, but we need to look for common ground and we need to acknowledge that this is we didn’t get into a problem overnight. We’re not gonna get out of this problem overnight.

[COBY]: No, that’s well said, ok, so as a bit of a summary, so the question was how can we better manage employees with differing political and social views? Well, the first part of the, of the answer to this is about recognizing that this is complex that this is multifaceted. This will, this is something that is, it’s messy. We have to realize that the solutions are going to be complex but also people are complex. There’s many sides to people. And one of the mistakes that we make is we fall into the cognitive effect of the simplicity bias where we move towards holding views that can easily be explained with a simple narrative that somebody is only one thing. They are only a vegan, they are only a Christian, they are only a conservative, they are only a liberal.
And when we make that we fall into the simplicity bias, it’s, it’s reductive to say the least. But it also tends to, to keep us from looking for the common ground that we’re gonna actually need if we actually want to, you know, to, to better work with other people and to kind of create, to resolve some of these conflicts that are really, are manufactured for us when they don’t need, need to be there. One of the things we have to do in our workplace is to address these issues is we have to start by removing the job dissatisfaction that’s currently in our in workplaces where it’s not even the high, you know, the highly difficult political and social conflicts that are causing problems. It’s small little things like James’s story about just having a different job duties than someone else that causes conflict. If we have job dissatisfaction, we are gonna have a lot of conflict over little things and that needs to be addressed before we’re ready to jump into handling a lot of these bigger things. Like around these political and social views, we have to stop with a zero-sum thinking that, you know, the idea that if I get something, if someone else, sorry, if someone else gets something, I must lose something that it’s about, you know, if you’re plus one, I minus one, that’s how we get to zero. That type of thinking is gonna be what is holding us back when we try to find common ground in our workplaces. Once we’ve tried to address job dissatisfaction, we need to move towards free psychological safety. We let people be comfortable with being vulnerable and support constructive discourse. This is best done by managers who model this with their employees.
And we recommend using a piece of Integrity Leadership called a Honest Acknowledgement where difficult ideas can be respected and their values can be understood, but you don’t have to agree with people acknowledging that someone has merit and someone’s ideas have value. Despite the fact that you may disagree with them, ultimately, we need to be moving towards inclusion. You be moving towards an inclusive environment where people feel accepted and that even though they have, you know, different opinions or thoughts that they’re still accepted and they can still belong. And, because it’s about identifying the alignment more so than identifying the differences. So that about does it for us for a full archive of our podcast and access to the video version hosted on our YouTube channel. Visit Thanks for joining us.

[ANNOUNCER]: For more information on topics like these, don’t forget to visit us at Side effects of this podcast may include improved retention, high productivity, increased market share, employees breaking out in spontaneous dance, dry mouth. A version of the Sound of James’ voice, desire to find a better podcast…

Share what inspires you