Us versus Them Helps No-one

When we find ourselves thinking in terms of us versus them, we are starting down an ugly path. This creates competition and the need to win. This is great in sports and yet it is very detrimental elsewhere.

Creating a situation where there are “sides” sets up a confrontation. It is very rare that people will be able to maintain a sense of curiosity if someone else is arguing that their side is correct. We get defensive and more entrenched in our stance, then we will go on the attack to prove our point. It creates hostility and shuts down the ability to find a solution.

This is not to say that it is possible to avoid conflict in every case, it’s not. We have different opinions, different experiences, different ideas and that’s great. Yet, it can lead to disagreements on which approach will work best or how to proceed. The key is to keep an open mind and actively listen to the other perspectives. Who knows you may learn something new! Equally we should expect people to listen to our perspective.

How can we make this work? Here are 5 tips to getting past the conflict and on to a solution:

  1. Be curious. We like to think we have the answers, or that what we know is right and yet that means we miss so much information. Seek first to understand and then be understood is one of the principles from Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. This mindset keeps us open to new ideas.
  2. Actively listen. Sit back and listen to others. If we only listen, people will feel heard and will be less inclined to attack other ideas. First listen, your time to speak will come.
  3. Respond calmly. When we take time to listen, we slow down our need to respond. This allows us to understand the insights gained and share our perspective calmly. We haven’t been attacked so we don’t need to defend anything.
  4. Seek options. After we share our ideas and acknowledge the other perspectives, we can start to look for options. With more information we can identify common ground.
  5. Build together. As we find places where we agree we can start to build a path forward that works for all of us. We have created a space where ideas can be shared, and new approaches found.

When we look for a way to work together to resolve problems and find new opportunities, we open the door for inclusion, diversity and welcome everyone to the future. Creating an us versus them situation pulls people apart, shuts people out and diminishes us all. Division reduces the outcome while inclusion increase the options and results.

There are so many places in today’s world where people are picking sides. Let’s be the person who seeks to understand, searches for options and works with others to find solutions. All of us will be better as a result.

Let's stop fighting each other and work together for a better future for everyone.


50% Complete


Please enter your name and email to stay up to date.

We hate spam so we can promise your information will never be sold or shared.