The other day, my mom embarrassed me a little. She had been going through some old boxes of papers she and my father had saved. Apparently, she had saved all my report cards from Kindergarten through High School.
I was worried she was going to reprimand me about “buckling down and doing your homework….” She didn’t, I suspect she knew the time had long passed.
As I was skimming through the report cards, in addition to the grades for all the courses, there were grades/comments about other areas. Things like, “completes assignments, participates in class, on-time, etc.” One stood out to me, “works well with others….” My record in grade school was spotty, but improved over time.
It struck me, we seem to struggle with this concept, both in our society and professionally. Too many would get failing grades in the “works well with others” category.
We tend not to work well with people who are different than us—different race, religion, sexual orientation, nationalities—–different ideas and belief systems. Professionally, we struggle with people who have different experiences, ideas, points of view, priorities. As sellers, we struggle to connect with prospects and customers.
What underlies this inability to work well with others?
I suspect there are a number of reasons. Some of it is just self-centeredness. We tend to focus on ourselves, what we want, what we believe, and our own priorities. And sometimes self-centeredness becomes selfishness. It’s a natural human tendency, but it limits us, our personal growth, and our ability to achieve/contribute.
Sometimes, it’s fear. In working well with others, we have to open ourselves to different ideas, different approaches, different beliefs. These differences may be threatening, to us and others. We may find we have been wrong. Whether we choose to change or agree to disagree, working with others helps us, individually, learn and grow.
Sometimes, it’s arrogance. Whether we think we know everything and choose not to learn, or we discount the perspectives that are different from ours, we limit ourselves. Ultimately, this leads to failure.
Research and intuition tells us, working well with others, with very diverse groups (in the broadest sense of the word) enables us to reach better quality decisions, faster!
We live in a world characterized by complexity and turbulence. It is simply impossible for us to achieve, even survive, by ourselves. Working well with others is not optional to address the challenges and opportunities we have, collectively and individually.
Simply states, we are better, as people, businesses, and societies when we work well with others.