We all want to work in an office where people are polite, considerate and kind. But it is possible to be too nice, failing to disagree when it’s important to do so and never surfacing new ideas or innovations.
“You can’t have a diverse, inclusive, productive team without some healthy fights,” says workplace dynamics expert Amy Gallo. “And raising disagreements can be especially challenging for women when they feel pressure to be likable or accommodate others. However, you can develop the skills to successfully navigate difficult situations that unlock newfound collaboration and engagement across all our relationships.”
A former management consultant, Gallo’s interest in “informal organizations” – the behind-the-scenes networks at the heart of many communities that govern how things get done in practice – compelled her study of uncomfortable moments. Her lifelong fascination with interpersonal interaction led her to become a go-to authority working at the forefront of calm, confident and healthy communication that transforms organizational culture and builds positive relationships. Her practical, evidence-based approach to navigating tough situations is getting teams back to doing good work – while building resilience in the process.
“If we avoid conflict completely, which many people try to do, we’re not going to get what we need,” says Gallo, whose popular 2019 TED Talk, “The Gift of Conflict,” inspired viewers to use her tools to navigate disagreements and approach conflict differently. “We think that avoiding conflict is preserving the harmony between us — and that might be the case some of the time. But ultimately, I think of it as an act of respect to surface the different opinions that we both hold and to sort through them together.”
Gallo has “a long record of writing accessibly about workplace dynamics,” according to the Financial Times, and has written hundreds of articles for Harvard Business Review (HBR) as a contributing editor. Her articles have covered managing conflict in remote settings, how teams can have “smart fights,” navigating power dynamics, gender at work and more. She applied her deep understanding of the role of psychological safety in difficult conversations in her first book, “The HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict” (2017), a how-to manual for handling conflict professionally and productively. She shares those ideas with practitioners through her work as a member of the faculty of the Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification program, launched by Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence.” As co-host of the popular HBR podcast, “Women at Work,” now in its seventh season, Gallo examines the struggles and successes of women in the workplace.
A gifted advisor, speaker and workshop facilitator, Gallo empathetically urges us to take a deeper look at the role biases play in making some of our interactions more difficult than others, reminding us that not everyone experiences the world the same way, especially when it comes to race or gender. Her research-backed frameworks introduce leaders, individuals, teams and organizations to the kind of productive conflict that spurs independent thought, challenges new ideas, and yields solutions that are strengthened by collective input.
Skills for Healthy, Constructive Conflict that Drives Innovation
Gallo’s new book, the “practical and wise” “Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People)” (HBR Press, September 2022), is an indispensable, actionable guide to navigating tough relationships at work and building interpersonal resilience in the process. Recognizing there is no broad category to encompass all unhealthy relationships at work, she identifies common personality types like “The Passive-Aggressive Gossip” or “The Political Operator” and provides paths to improving ties with those individuals. Gallo deftly integrates research findings and advice from fields like neuroscience, management science, and negotiation to provide a handbook to managing problem relationships in productive and nuanced ways.
“There’s no denying that the stress caused by negative interactions can affect our productivity, make work miserable and even bleed into other aspects of our lives,” Gallo sums up. “Conflict at work is inevitable, but I think we can do better than simply put up with it or survive. By putting work conflict in its place, you’ll free up valuable time and mental capacity for the things that really matter to you.”
Amy Gallo is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Praise for “Getting Along”
“’Getting Along’ is both practical and wise. And Amy Gallo is exactly the person you want by your side for the next step of your professional journey.” – Amy C. Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School; Author, “The Fearless Organization”
“A must-have for everyone in the workforce. Amy Gallo’s handbook is a treasure chest of practical, evidence-based tips. I will be referring to and recommending this essential guide for years to come!” – Dolly Chugh, Author, “The Person You Mean to Be” and “A More Just Future”
“If you’ve ever lost sleep over a relationship at work, this book is for you. Amy Gallo has written a research-backed guide filled with relatable stories to help you turn the most complicated interactions into something to learn from.” – Linda A. Hill, Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School; Coauthor, “Collective Genius” and “Being the Boss”
“Amy Gallo is that rare combination of a first-class thinker and a wonderful writer. ‘Getting Along’ tells us how to work well, even with that jerk we wish would get another job. Highly recommend.” – Daniel Goleman, Bestselling Author, “Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence”
Teams that welcome productive conflict create a psychologically safe workplace culture that unlocks newfound ingenuity, collaboration and trust. Stern Strategy Group connects you with renowned thought leaders whose insights, strategies and management frameworks help organizations fuel growth and disruptive innovation to better compete in a constantly changing world. Let us arrange for these esteemed experts to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting sessions, workshops and keynotes.