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Unleashed E52: Amy Gallo - Want Better Results? Let’s Just Get Along!

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The best vision, strategy or team will fall short if people in your organization don’t get along. Could incivility, friction and conflict be holding you back?

Amy Gallo, an expert in human interactions and workplace dynamics, describes how a lack of harmonious relationships can hold people and organizations back, and what to do to address this problem.

Actions You Can Take Right Now

  1. Experiencing incivility in the workplace and having to deal with difficult people is extremely common and impairs organization and individual wellbeing. Most often it’s not addressed, but the path to better results is to find ways to ensure harmony in relationships.
  2. Creating harmony requires helping people see the link between their behaviors and the impact it is having on others. This includes questioning our own perspectives of the other person, isolating the offensive behavior (instead of labelling the other person generally as “difficult”), and seeking allyship and trust.
  3. As leaders, we need to have high self-awareness and seek feedback to ensure we are not the problem. Using anonymous feedback mechanisms and having straight-talk with colleagues can provide this insight.


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Episode Highlights and Excerpts

  • No matter how good a vision, strategy or plan is, if people don’t get along within an organization the results will be less than they could be. Incivility takes a toll on organizations and individuals. Trust, mutual respect, and a culture of psychological safety is the path to sustainable high performance.
  • Friction, incivility, and conflict between individuals triggers a physiological threat response in people, forcing us into less creative and more defensive modes of thinking.
  • In her book Getting Along, Amy’s research shows that nearly everyone, 98%, deal with difficult colleagues. In most cases we grin and bear it instead of trying to do something to improve the situation.
  • It’s dangerous to objectively label some people as difficult. We view other people through our own perspectives and biases, and what we perceive as difficult may not be so in the eyes of others. There are always two sides to any relationship. We should try to isolate the difficult behavior as opposed to labelling a person as universally difficult.
  • The common personae or archetypes that show up in the research include passive-aggressiveness, the insecure boss, and overly pessimistic individuals. Each of these personas require different strategies to deal with.
  • Universal strategies that can be employed when dealing with so-called difficult people include:
    • Recognizing that your perspective is just one perspective and may not be shared with others.
    • Treat efforts to improve the situation with that person as subtle experiments.
    • Don’t point fingers without first cleaning up your own side of the street.
    • Use the SBI tool – state the Situation, the observed Behavior, and the Impact of that behavior.
  • A common question that Amy gets is, “how do I know if I’m the problem?” It’s a good question, and leaders need to seek feedback and have trusted sources of straight talk they can go to.

Take Your Business to the Next Level 

At Results we care about your success, we understand how overwhelming it can feel to run a business, and we’re here to help. Reach out to Nicole through our contact form for ways to unleash the potential of your business. 

Visit the Unleashed Podcast Library where you’ll find exclusive conversations with world-class thought leaders, authors, and leadership experts. 

Each episode of Unleashed is hosted by Results’ CEO Jeff Tetz who spends most of his day exploring what makes high performers tick and helping build a community of leaders who want to learn and grow together. Follow Jeff (Twitter; LinkedIn; Instagram) for more great leadership insights.

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Amy Gallo

Amy Gallo Unleashed S6 Speaker

Amy Gallo is an expert in conflict, communication, and workplace dynamics. She combines the latest management research with practical advice to deliver evidence-based ideas on how to improve relationships and excel at work.

She is the author of the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict, a how-to guidebook about handling conflict professionally and productively, and the forthcoming Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People), which will be out in September 2022.

In her role as a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, Amy writes about interpersonal dynamics, communicating ideas, leading and influencing people, and building your career and has contributed to numerous books on feedback, emotional intelligence, and managing others, and is the co-author of the HBR Guide to Building Your Business Case.

Amy is on the faculty of the Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification program, recently launched by Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence. She has taught at Brown University and UPenn and is a graduate of both Brown and Yale University.