Opposites attract, or so the saying goes, but in the workplace opposites can often attract problems relating to philosophy, management style or even just work habits.
Bringing opposites together can result in a synthesis that draws the best from each party, offering possibilities that would not have been possible with just one. Or, bringing opposites together can result in stasis, leading to stagnation, personality differences that can’t be overcome and destruction of an organization.
- In her book “The Genius of Opposites” Jennifer B. Kahnweiler offers a five-step, A-B-C-D-E process to draw upon the genius of opposites, to get the best from difference. The five steps are:
- Accept the alien. It isn’t possible to change an opposite, but it is possible to understand him/her/them. Anyone who accepts this fact is in for far less stress.
- Bring on the battles. See disagreement as necessary to arriving at better outcomes because the opposites challenge each other to come up with better solutions together than either would alone.
- Cast the character. Know each person’s role in a scenario and cast them so as to bring out the opposite’s best. Opposites share the credit no matter what role they take.
- Destroy the dislike. Respecting each other and acting like friends means being able to talk openly and have fun.
- Each can’t offer everything. Know that each person is incapable of offering everything, so work in concert to provide the widest range of options to others.