This year has been daunting. The pandemic has taken loved ones and friends too soon, many workers have lost jobs, and employees now spend workdays social distancing from each other. Many of us are feeling the weariness of the impact of racial strife and injustice, business closures, and another contentious election year. With today’s current events, emotions are running high, and it has become more challenging than ever to foster camaraderie among your employees and coworkers.
Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg served side by side on the Supreme Court for over 20 years. They demonstrated a strong working relationship, even in the most unlikely circumstances. They rarely found themselves on the same side of a legal argument. He was a staunch conservative; she was a progressive liberal. They were also dear friends. They enjoyed going to operas together, passing notes during oral arguments, and both grew up in New York. They understood that even if they disagreed, they could still walk away as friends.
Their working relationship provides us with some critical lessons for all working relationships:
- Value coworkers and employees who disagree with you. Scalia and Ginsburg highly regarded each other, respected their contributions to the rule of law, and considered each other equals. Each one of your coworkers and employees brings a different perspective to your company that has value.
- Be willing to have hard conversations. Scalia and Ginsburg disagreed on abortion, immigration, and the Constitution’s role in society. Even though they stayed true to their beliefs, they were willing to engage with each other. If you find yourself disagreeing with someone within your company, remember that you are having a conversation, not a conflict.
- Look for different perspectives. Scalia once provided Ginsburg with his dissent to one of the decisions she was writing. She read it and thought about the dissent’s criticism and worked through it to make her written opinion stronger. She did not have to change her mind, but she did have to be able to see things from another’s perspective. Likewise, we should want to know where the weaknesses lie in our positions.
- Have fun. Scalia and Ginsburg went to parties together, passed funny jokes during oral arguments, and loved to laugh together. There should be joy in celebrating life and work with others, even in difficult times.
It can be challenging to create a workplace that values harmony while embracing differences, but the payoff is always worth it. And who knows? Maybe someday, people will be using your relationships with others as guideposts to a more harmonious work environment.
Are you looking for more advice? We encourage you to check out the other articles we have posted on our blog for more guidance on creating and sustaining healthy work environments.