Us and Them
It’s an old joke. There are three kinds of people. Those who can count. And those who can’t.
When we’re done chuckling or rolling our eyes (depending on our senses of humor), we may be brought up short to realize that really, according to most folks, there are only two types of people: us and them. Whether you’ve made us the superior ones or put them on a pedestal, you’ve lost sight of the human connection.
The I / We perspective frequently gets lost because of the lack of communication skills necessary to bridge the gap between ourselves and others. Slowly, we start to believe the idea that we’re really a fragmented, polarized society and it will never change.
Even if we don’t take a strong stand on us/them, it is the rare person who cannot make use of a few suggestions to help change the mindset to focus on we, or reminders to keep the focus on we:
Be aware of your own judgments. Do you categorize people, teams, departments?
What are your tendencies toward those who are “like” you? Might you be giving an unconscious benefit of the doubt?
What are your tendencies toward those who are “not like” you? Are they immediately suspect?
- Do you say we while thinking us?
If you notice yourself wandering into an us/them mentality, ask yourself a few questions:
What am I identifying in this situation that is drawing a line between the two groups?
Who can I ask to support me in reflecting on my us/them mentality?
Who will help me pay attention to my use of terms like us and them?
How can I better connect with the them community and reach out to “the others” to share learnings and experiences?
Perhaps we could all make it a goal to learn to associate with them in an engaging and curious way. Be open to others’ mindsets and opinions. If you know or work with people who seem firmly entrenched in an us/them way of life, recognize that the only opportunity you will have to change their mindsets will be to live out the change in yours.
Especially in business, leaders must set the example of being a team player and embracing we. Internal delineations that divide team members into us and them are called silos, and silos rarely serve the organizational whole. Myriad functions combine to produce success for every organization. There is no success for us without them.
Be the leader you want to see in others. Embrace team members’ differences, use your awareness to self-correct, and set the example of collective collaboration.
Unsure where to start? Let’s chat.
P.S. If this describes you and you want to book a Complimentary Strategy Session so we can get you moving in the right direction, just click on my Complimentary Strategy Session calendar link here and let’s book a time together so you can get started today!