It is the focus on people—their work habits, their talents, their values—that is absolutely central to any creative venture.

Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.

I had a tense conversation with a collaborator once where I was (rather desperately) trying to understand their perspective, and they were adamant that they didn’t have to help me understand. In their view, I believe, we were simply islands. We were always going to be different from each other and that was that. No point trying to see eye-to-eye.

But any creative project or collaborative environment requires good chemistry among people. People have the great ideas and put in the work to get things done. Productivity doesn’t happen in a vacuum: people need to feel challenged and engaged in what they’re doing. And in order to feel involved, others have to involve them.

Yes, there are always going to be different personalities. But in a working environment you have to find ways to empathize: to understand, to some degree, where the other person is coming from. That can absolutely get uncomfortable if you’re two people with different outlooks on how to approach issues. But that discomfort is necessary if it means that ultimately both parties will feel like their ideas and their personalities matter.

Successful creative projects are not the result of everyone working in their own pods and refusing to have difficult conversations. Everyone needs to feel included. And inclusion is active, not passive.

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