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Synopsis

Moving beyond mere tolerance

Us-versus-them is the costly mind-set in which organizations, communities, and whole nations too often find themselves trapped. In fact, recognizing difference as a positive force can bring astonishing value to even the most diverse organizations.

In Us Plus Them, leadership scholar Todd Pittinsky introduces a groundbreaking new science of diversity that:

• Debunks the assumption that wherever there is difference there will be inherent tension and animosity
• Challenges the effectiveness of our standard attempts to fight prejudice and combat hate in our schools and workplaces, our civic and religious lives
• Reveals how we benefit from the mixing of different ethnic, racial, national, social, and religious groups in a globalized world

Through a wide range of examples-from Maine and Michigan to Rwanda and Bhutan, and from small-town classrooms to corporate boardrooms-Pittinsky opens our eyes to misunderstood yet useful aspects of us-and-them relations, including many of the neglected positive dimensions of difference. He provides a bold new assessment of the popular and scientific approaches to the issue, proving that it’s time to move beyond mere tolerance to build communities in which the two sides of the us-and-them equation engage each other because they both want to.

Much as Martin Seligman and positive psychology have shifted the focus from mental illness to mental healthiness, this book shifts our mind-set to diversity as a positive force. Understanding the science and practical use of that energy will help us build the schools, neighborhoods, companies, and nations we want, and not simply avoid the ugliest problems of the past. Pittinsky shows us that our great diversity experiment hasn’t failed-it hasn’t even begun.

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