Spectrum of views

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…you lead a group where allies experience differences becomes deeply polarized over conflicting beliefs, problem definitions, solutions, or decisions.

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Get a group drifting towards polarization back on track and get on with the business at hand.


  • people may strongly disagree without stereotyping each other, but their conflict threatens to derail the task;
  • having people explore both sides of the conflict often creates mutual insights and respect;
  • when people dialogue with those who are ostensibly similar, comparing notes on what they believe and why, often to their surprise, they nearly always discover differences that were not apparent at first;
  • when people listen in on conversations among those they consider different, they nearly always discover positions similar to theirs that they could not discern until now;
  • under certain conditions different views can be validated and integrated.

Paradox: similar different—within apparent similarities, differences always exist, and within apparent differences, similarities will emerge.


Stop the action and use a subgroup dialogue. Have the members of one subgroup talk with each other while the other subgroup listens. After all members of one subgroup have had their say, ask the others subgroup to do the same while the first subgroup listens.

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Differentiation leads to integration. Both-and replaces either-or as the unspoken group assumption.

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