We live in polarizing times, but we can resolve our conflicts.
Pop Culture

New Heineken commercial goes viral with examples of working out conflicts

Are you willing to sit down with your worst enemy and share a beer?

That’s a question Heineken asked in its newest ad, which has won an enthusiastic response on the internet.  

For those who haven’t seen the Heineken clip or the full four-minute video, here’s what it’s about: The brand put together three pairs of strangers with opposing political views and had each pair build a bar, Ikea-style, while stopping to answer revealing questions about themselves along the way.

At the end, the pairs were given an option to walk away from each other, or work through their differences over a beer. 

Unsurprisingly, all three took the beer, and later they had a good time catching up and felt they’d learned more about someone with other views. 

How to work out conflicts with coworkers, advertising edition

While the video is already being as hailed the anti-Pepsi/Kendall Jenner ad — meaning that it tackles political differences respectfully, rather than frivolously — Heineken’s campaign also offers several lessons for how to deal with workplace conflict or disagreements.

 1. Start With Common Interests and Goals

When you know that you and co-worker have polar opposite ideas on how to tackle a project or interact with a client, it can be easy to obsess about your differences. Remember in that moment that the two of you probably have at least a couple of things in common.

Instead, start from scratch. Look at the other person’s full experience, not just this single point of disagreement. What are your common interests and goals outside of work? Then, what are your common interests and goals at the office? Chances are you probably both care about making your company a better place. Start there before tackling the more hot-button issues.

 2. Change Your Environment

When you’ve been arguing with anyone for three hours about a PowerPoint presentation in a stuffy, windowless boardroom, it’s easy to see why nothing gets solved. Your creativity is stifled, and you’re on edge.

Next time you feel like you’re not getting anywhere with a co-worker or your team, take it elsewhere.

You can move to the kitchen area of your office, take a stroll around the block together or grab a drink. Changing up your environment can make all the difference to how you relate. 

Pro tip: when you walk with somebody, you not only think better, but you may be more able to be honest. Eye contact is incredibly difficult on your brain and takes away energy you need for language processing. Without constant eye contact, you can process emotions faster and speak honestly.

 3. Keep an Open Mind

Often we get so set in our ways that we forget that it’s not always the best thing for our views and ideas to stay the same. Sometimes disagreement with someone else can be just what we need to wake us up about our own ideas.

We get it: it’s hard to let go of being right. But it’s worse to be wrong and stubborn, missing out on good ideas just because you don’t want to listen to someone else. 

So the next time a co-worker has a different opinion, step away from your position for a second and approach the problem as if you’re somebody else. Admitting that you’re wrong or that maybe your idea isn’t the best is difficult, but it’s a critical part of being a great employee and an important member of any team.

Focus on the big wins instead of nitpicking at the small ones. Changing the font on a team proposal from Times New Roman to Arial really isn’t going to make that big of a difference. Instead, pay attention to the battles that mean the most to you and your career.

Even if beer isn’t your favorite drink — or you don’t drink at all — Heineken’s point is simple: We have a lot more in common than we think, so why not use that to do something great?

Lily Herman

Lily Herman is a New York-based writer, editor, and social media manager whose recent bylines include Fast Company, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Newsweek, ELLE, Teen Vogue, and TIME. You can check out her personal website and find her perpetually on Twitter.