A common shortcut to cultural divisiveness is to find the single worst person in a different group and highlight and attack their behavior.

By making it clear and obvious that this is what THEY (the plural) want and who THEY are, it’s easy to walk away from a larger we. Their worst troll becomes their mascot.

And in a media-fueled culture that thrives on division, this is a convenient shortcut.

What happens, though, if we find the worst person on our team and tell them to chill out a bit. That people like us don’t do things like that. That their trollish, extreme behavior is magnifying differences instead of making it more likely we end up with useful cultural cohesion…

It’s surprising how much the outlier is willing to listen to the very people they’re counting on for support. And the folks you seek to win over are much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt if you have a history of discouraging bad behavior.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about politicians, sports fans, entrepreneurs or activists. More extreme division is unlikely to sell our idea and gain the support we’re looking for.