Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.
I wonder what the mothers of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin have in common. Without in any way having the ability to be in their hearts, minds, or lives, I’d wager that the list is a long one. Beginning with love of family, grief, the desire to do what is right, decency, feelings of confusion, a value placed on dignity, experience with social inequity. Even if I’m wrong on a couple of fronts, that’s remains a pretty long list.
The media isn’t talking much about the Common Ground that the various players in this tragic drama share – I sure wish they would. Focusing on what we have in common, you see, is a valuable way to build harmony and, as it turns out, to enhance productivity in the workplace.
Why Is Common Ground So Valuable?
In real estate, value is all about “location, location, location.” In the workplace, value is most often measured by “productivity, productivity, productivity.” And that’s why Common Ground is such a treasured commodity.
Identifying what we have in common, you see, has been proven in study after study to enhance both productivity and innovation in a wide variety of workplaces. Let’s take a look at how this works.
Increased Trust: First, teams that share an awareness of commonality experience enhanced trust among themselves. This trust, in turn, means that individuals more readily voice their ideas to other members of the group and, equally important, are more willing to share bits and pieces of information that can lead to the success of a project.
Increased Engagement:Second, those teams that can identify common values have been shown to feel increased work satisfaction and, in turn, commitment to the task. This does not mean that they agree on everything or share the same background – merely that they have an awareness of, in some way, looking at the world with a similar perspective.
Empathy: Finally, there’s empathy. Empathy is the capacity to relate to another person’s feelings. Empathy is key to the ability to have productive conversation, listen to differing views, and support others in times of stress. As it turns out, the more similar we feel we are to another person, the more quickly we are able to empathize with them.
All of this is not to say that we don’t still value diversity in our organizations. Of course we do – identifying Common Ground in no way negates the need and ability to honor how we differ. I like to say that valuing diversity and cultivating Common Ground are simply two sides of the same inclusion coin.
There are certain needs/desires that every person on the planet shares. Although these needs are satisfied differently from culture-to-culture and individual-to-individual, the underlying value is the same. One of the following answers contains the four values that are universal throughout the world. Which do you think it is? The desire for…
A. Pleasurable moments, offspring to carry on their name, material wealth, prestige for the group.
B. Security, physical comfort, social support, dignity.
C. The opportunity to learn, ample time to play, individual prestige, the ability to plan for the future.
Click here to see the answer.
Click here to read about Sondra’s presentation, “Cultivating Common Ground: The Other Side of the Inclusion Coin.”
© copyright 2013 Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.
Feel free to re-print as long as copyright and web site (www.thiederman.com) information is attached.